White Rock firefighters were called to the 1300-block of Winter Street Monday, after a pot of simmering potpourri burned dry.

White Rock firefighters were called to the 1300-block of Winter Street Monday, after a pot of simmering potpourri burned dry.

White Rock seniors smoked out by simmering potpourri

Potpourri left simmering unattended on a White Rock stove triggered the evacuation of a three-storey apartment building Monday.

Potpourri left simmering unattended on a White Rock stove triggered the evacuation of a three-storey apartment building Monday.

Fortunately for the senior residents, smoke from the burning pot did not turn into fire.

But the event was “a good exercise” nonetheless, said deputy fire Chief Rob Atkinson.

“I don’t think there was ever any danger of it going any farther than the stove top,” Atkinson said. “It turned out to be a good drill.”

Fire crews were called to the 1355 Winter St. building around 9:30 a.m. April 1, shortly after a home-care worker arrived to the sound of a smoke detector going off.

Helen Verhaaf said she soon found the source: a two-bedroom unit on the third floor. The unit’s front-door handle was warm, she said.

After “hammering” on doors to alert residents and the manager, the building alarm was triggered and fire crews called.

Verhaaf commended the quick response, and said the experience was a wake-up call about the importance of having fire drills.

In her 18 years attending to clients in the building, there haven’t been any, she said, and if Monday’s incident had been more serious, it could have ended in tragedy.

“It was really difficult,” she said. “They had no evacuation plan. Some of (the residents) headed down into the car park.”

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