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Kelowna firefighters douse two ‘suspicious’ downtown fires within hours each other

Click to play video: 'Two fires in downtown Kelowna deemed suspicious'
Two fires in downtown Kelowna deemed suspicious
It's been a busy 24 hours for firefighters in Kelowna, dealing with not one but two overnight fires in the downtown core. As Jayden Wasney reports, both blazes have been deemed suspicious. – Feb 10, 2023

Within a matter of hours, the Kelowna Fire Department was dispatched to two downtown buildings where smoke could be seen.

Smoke was seen rising from a multi-storey building under construction at around 10:30 p.m., Thursday, along the 1400 block of St. Paul Street.

“First crews arrived on scene very quickly because the station is just down the street and they found light smoke coming from the building,” deputy fire chief Dwight Seymour said, adding later the fire was on the first floor.

“They were able to access the building very quickly and found a concrete room with fire in some construction supplies. They’re able to extinguish it very quickly.”

Click to play video: 'Kelowna Fire Department ice rescue training'
Kelowna Fire Department ice rescue training

Seymour said there wasn’t anybody at the scene other than the security personnel and the cause is considered suspicious.

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Before 6 a.m., on Friday, another fire was reported in the 400 block of Bernard Avenue.

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“The first arriving officer reports a fire in an alcove at the rear of the building,” the fire department said in a press release.

“The fire was quickly knocked down before it could extend into the rest of the structure. The building’s fire alarm alerted other businesses to the fire and the few business occupants of the building safely evacuated without injury. Crews gained access to two affected units of the building to confirm there was no extension and ventilated both units.”

There was moderate fire damage to the alcove and minor smoke damage to the interior of the two affected units. General manager of one of the stores impacted by the blaze says while he’s still in shock to see the damage at the back of his store, he’s glad no one was seriously injured.

“Anytime this happens to your place of business, it’s a little bit disheartening,” explained general manager of ABco, Shawn Jordan.

“The first thought I had was just hoping that if someone was sleeping here in this area, that they were okay and that they didn’t get harmed, and my understanding is that didn’t happen.”

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Jordan says as a result of the smoke from the fire, he’ll be spending the day airing out his business. He hopes the city will do more to support its unhoused population, to stop future business owners from getting burned.

“Until it affects you personally like it has us today, it really brings to light the empathy for the individual that’s there and realizing that we have to do something because this isn’t a place where someone (should be) trying to keep warm,” said Jordan.

“Definitely more funding, more resources have to be put into the root causes of the problem.”

The fire is suspicious in nature and will be investigated by KFD and RCMP on Friday.

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