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Kelowna condo fire: Site still off-limits because of construction crane concerns

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More than 24 hours after a massive fire at a construction site in Kelowna reduced a four-storey condo project to a pile of charred lumber, a large area surrounding the extinguished blaze remains off-limits to cars and people.

The problem towering over the site is the construction crane.

With a span of 48 metres (157 feet) and a height of 39 metres (128 feet), the crane at the Wyndham Crescent condo fire site would do a lot of damage if it fell.

“The area is deemed unsafe,” Kelowna Fire Department deputy chief Sandra Follack told Global News.

The crane’s stability remains in question after being enveloped in scorching heat, possibly having the base compromised, during Tuesday morning’s massive three-alarm fire.The blaze torched the under-construction condo project,  leaving nothing but scorched lumber.“We are waiting for an insurance company from the crane construction company to tell us about the integrity crane. So until they do that, nothing is going to change,” Follack explained.“The road [Glenmore] stays closed down and nobody goes near the crane.”
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The closure includes several people who live within toppling distance of the crane at Wyndham Terrace, located on Wyndham Crescent.

Follack said nine units are affected, and those residents are out until confirmation is received that the site is safe.

As well, Glenmore Road will remain closed from Cross to Scenic roads and Union Road will be shut down from Wyndham Crescent to Valley Road.

Just around the corner from Wyndham Terrace, at Parklane Townhomes, four of the complex’s seven units are uninhabitable due to damage from the blaze.

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“I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because there’s a firewall between Unit 4 and Unit 3, and I’m Unit 3,” said Parklane resident Ashley Helm.

Helm said she was expecting the worst when she returned to her Parklane townhome on Wednesday morning.

“Yesterday, when we were evacuated, the firefighter told me it didn’t look good and be prepared to lose everything,” said Helm.

However, Helm was not only allowed to move back in today, but she was surprised to find little damage done to her home.

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“Such a relief. I feel really fortunate; I feel so bad for my neighbours,” Helm confided.

“Especially for No. 7; they’re not going to be able to live there. It has to be all rebuilt.”

According to the Kelowna Fire Department, the cause of the fire is still undetermined because its investigators haven’t been able to get on-site because of the possible danger the crane may pose.

On Wednesday, the site was turned over to its owners, and any investigation regarding a cause will be up to them.

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