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Vernon gymnasium partially damaged by fire

A fire investigator combs through the debris of a structure fire at a Vernon gym.
A fire investigator combs through the debris of a structure fire at a Vernon gym. Megan Turcato\Global News

A city-owned gymnasium in the North Okanagan was partially damaged by fire on Saturday night.

Vernon Fire Rescue Services were called to the structure fire at approximately 9:20 p.m, in the 3400 block of 35 Avenue.

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Upon arrival, crews found a large juniper bush on fire on the south side of the Priest Valley gymnasium.

“By the time crews arrived, the fire had already extended to the building and was active in the roof — which is made of cedar shakes,” said Scott Hemstad, deputy fire chief.

The Priest Valley gymnasium was built in 1972 and its roof is made of cedar shakes, a highly flammable material.
The Priest Valley gymnasium was built in 1972 and its roof is made of cedar shakes, a highly flammable material. City of Vernon

“Firefighters quickly pulled off a line and knocked the fire down on the roof before it could extend too far into the building and then extinguished the bush below.”

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Once the fire was out, crews pulled shingles off the corner of the structure to confirm there were no other flames or hot spots in the attic.

READ MORE: Vernon Fire Rescue investigating blaze that torched home

Career and auxiliary firefighters, RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and BC Hydro all responded to the scene.

“Thanks to the close proximity to the fire station and the quick action of our firefighters, damage was contained to one small portion of the building,” Hemstad said.

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“As for the cause of the fire, it’s too early to tell where or how it began. We have turned the scene over to the RCMP, who are now investigating.”

According to the City of Vernon’s website, the gym was constructed in 1972.