Powell River Fire Rescue responded to a dangerous house fire in Townsite at the corner of Willow Avenue and Hawthorn Street on the morning of Tuesday, September 11.
When crews arrived, the fire was fully engaged, with heavy smoke and flames, according to PRFR deputy chief Rocky Swanson.
A cause of the fire has not been determined.
Swanson said occupants of the unit, a young couple and their toddler son, were lucky to escape.
“This fire was so hot and so fast, the fact that anybody made it out of this is a lottery,” said Swanson. “It flashed over so fast. I suspect that by the time they literally took one step out the back door it passed 650 degrees Celsius. It's unreal.”
People who were standing next to the fire are lucky to be alive, according to Swanson.
“The speed of this fire is what is mind-boggling,” said Swanson. “A fire like this will double in size every 30 seconds.
Swanson said PRFR received the call at 9:36 am and were on the scene within five minutes.
“The fact that we were able to get there within five minutes and get some water on, that's what stopped it from burning the whole building and probably saved the building next to it,” said Swanson.
Live power lines on Willow Avene that had to be stepped over compounded firefighters’ efforts.
One side of the duplex that was engulfed in flames is a total write-off, according to Swanson, but the other unit, occupied by Powell River resident Martin Williams was untouched.
Williams said he received a call from a neighbour at 9:40 am informing him that his house was going up in flames.
“I went into the house and grabbed my cats, Bo and Bee, and I came out,” he said. “At the end of the day there’s no damage on my side so I’m very lucky with that. I’ve lost nothing that time and cleaning isn’t going to fix.”
On the other side of the duplex, Williams said the young family who lived there lost everything.
“They’re the people who are going to need help,” said Williams “They were in the house and they literally ran out. Their cat, which is an indoor/outdoor cat, we don’t know where that one is. Hopefully that little scrawny guy will show up.”
Williams said he’s been overwhelmed by friends offering help and a place to stay.
Swanson said Williams’ home escaped the destruction because the duplex appears to have been up to code with fire stops between the two units.