Destructive Vernon house fire started outside the home: fire chief

Click to play video: 'Six people displaced by Vernon house fire' Six people displaced by Vernon house fire
WATCH: (Aired Aug. 23, 2019) Six people have been displaced by a Vernon house fire, including a young family – Aug 23, 2019

Vernon’s fire department has concluded that a destructive blaze that left six people homeless last week was sparked outside the house on Commonage Place.

Although, the investigation into the Aug. 22 fire didn’t pinpoint an exact ignition source, the fire department has concluded it was not suspicious.

Fire Chief David Lind said the flames started in the yard of the home, spread to some tall cedar trees near the house and then traveled into the building’s attic.

The fire also damaged the house next door to the main blaze.

Watch: (Aug. 22) Raw video of the Commonage Place house fire. Video courtesy of Fred Haight.
Click to play video: 'Vernon house goes up in flames' Vernon house goes up in flames
Vernon house goes up in flames – Aug 22, 2019

The way the fire spread from foliage to the house has Lind urging residents to take steps to keep potential fire fuel away from their homes.

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“Tall cedar trees, those types of things, they can be carrier fuels and move fire from the outside of the home to the inside of the home,” Lind said.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t have trees in your yard; just move them further way from the home.”

More information about how take preventative measures in your yard is available on the city’s website.

READ MORE: Vernon firefighters extinguish residential blaze along Commonage Place

The fire department said a mother and her child evacuated the house before fire crews arrived, approximately seven minutes after the fire was reported to 911.

A woman driving in the area followed the smoke to the fire and called 911.

Catherine Pynappels said she alerted a neighbour to the fire and arrived on scene to find a distraught woman with a baby outside.

Pynappels described seeing the woman run back into the house with her baby to get some possessions.

READ MORE: Vernon Fire Rescue investigating blaze that torched home

“I followed her in there. Once I realized . . . that it was pictures she was looking for, I just took the baby and told her you got to get out,” Pynappels recalled.

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“We went out and sat across the street and waited for the fire trucks to come, and it didn’t take long for that house to be fully engulfed in flames.”

Lind said the help of the Good Samaritan “significantly reduced the risk to the occupants when she assisted them to evacuate.”

A family of five was renting the upstairs of the home and a young man who had recently moved to Canada had just moved into the basement suite.

All six people were left homeless by the fire.

READ MORE: Lightning strike near South Okanagan home starts fire

Downstairs tenant Owen Wilson was working out of town when he got the call that the house was on fire and said “his body just went into shock.”

“I was paranoid more for the family upstairs because I didn’t know whether they were home,” Wilson said.

“When I eventually got back the blaze, the fire had actually been put out by that time, and, to see the damage, I was just blown away. I was just in shock that something like that had happened with people inside.”

Lind said the home will not be inhabitable for months “if it’s not a complete redo.”


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