PENTICTON — Fire investigators are trying to find the cause of a large industrial structure fire and explosion in Penticton on Monday night.
Penticton fire crews were called around 9:40 p.m. to a report of an explosion on Commercial Way.
“They arrived on scene and found heavy fire on the back of the commercial property, it’s a couple of mobile home trailers that people are living in,” says Deputy Fire Chief Dave Spalding.
Spalding says one man was burned by the fire and taken to hospital. No word on the extent of his burns.
“He has burns to the side of his face and his hands and I believe he is still in hospital,” says Spalding.
The cause of the fire is under investigation but it’s believed to be propane-related.
“We are just investigating to find out if it was in fact propane, if it was a propane furnace or if it was malfunction of some type,” says Spalding.
“He may have been trying to light his furnace or possibly had it lit and had some sort of an error or malfunction.”
He says poor furnace installation could have caused some of the propane gas to escape into the house.
“Propane is a combustible gas just like natural gas so if it’s not within containment it’s obviously a hazardous gas so if it escapes into the room and it finds an ignition source, it obviously is going to ignite and that could have been what happened in this case.”
Spalding says there were 20 members of the fire department on scene at the height of the incident.
“There are two other trailers parked beside this one, both of them were damaged from the radiant heat, both of them caught fire as well so they actually had three structures burning even though they were small structures and they were easily put out,” says Spalding.
He says crews were able to extinguish the flames quickly. He says the owner of the property that the trailers are on does have insurance.
“He does have contact with his insurance company so there’ll be some, definitely some cleanup moving forward and insurance is definitely there,” says Spalding.
He did not comment on whether the occupants of the other two damaged trailers were home at the time of the blaze.
It is suspected the fire may have been started accidentally. RCMP attended and spoke to the resident who was burned.
“That male reported he had lit a cigarette in the trailer and the explosion occured. Earlier in the day they had been working on a propane furnace,” says Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth with Penticton RCMP.
While fire officials have a hunch as to what may have happened, investigators are on scene, trying to determine the exact cause.
~ With files from Angela Jung