For the third time this summer, a balcony fire has burned up the side of a building and into a roof, damaging two homes in Rutland.
As of this morning, the Kelowna Fire Department was willing to peg the ignition point as somewhere on the second-floor balcony of a townhouse at 500 Lester Road.
Arriving to find units 12 and 13 on fire at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the fire department extinguished the flames then determined a smoker’s materials likely ignited the blaze which forced six people and two cats out of their homes.
“Fire crews were able to contain the fire to the middle two units,” said Captain Eric Simpson, Kelowna Fire Department, noting damage to the two units will likely total $350,000.
It took three engines, one rescue vehicle, two ladder trucks and a command unit with 18 firefighters to complete the task.
Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle has called for building code changes which might prevent a fire from spreading from a balcony to a roof as occurred in this case.
Following the Legacy Apartments fire last month, Clarlisle made a public plea for the development to be retrofitted with sprinklers on the balconies and for changes to the BC Building Code to demand developers take the responsibility to protect the outsides of buildings from this type of event.
“In my career I can count about 15 or 20 of these structures that I’ve been to that have had essentially the same type of scenario where the fire starts on the outside of the building because the balconies are not sprinklered,” said Carlisle in a press conference outside the burnt-out Legacy condos.
That event was just the latest in a long line of apartment and condo fires illustrating how easy it is for a fire to travel up the side of a building to the roof where there are no sprinklers to assist firefighters efforts.