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Intense blaze in Nanaimo leaves family without a home

Back of house fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrive on scene
Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer Alan Millbank surveys the back of a house during his investigation into the cause of the blaze that heavily damaged the structure Wednesday, March 6. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

A family of three is without a home following a fire that destroyed a house in Harewood last night.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded to the scene in the 400 block of Eighth Street shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, and arrived to find the back of the house fully engulfed in flame and heavy smoke coming from the front of the structure.

“One occupant, who was home at the time, heard a bang, saw some fire in the back and he made his way out of the house,” said Alan Millbank, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer.

Dean Puckett, a neighbour who was a volunteer firefighter in Crofton, said he ran to the scene to determine if everyone had escaped the fire. Flames from the back of the home rose as high as 20 metres. Puckett said as he was running toward the house, a barbecue propane tank blew its safety valve, increasing to the intensity of the blaze.

“It was fully involved on the back side and the front was just pouring smoke out under the soffits,” Puckett said. “At that point it’s too late, really.”

Millbank said he was surprised at how advanced the fire had become in the time it took for fire crews to arrive, but also noted that it was dark out and if someone were in another part of the home away from the fire it would have taken longer to notice it. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation and the house will likely be a write-off.

Millbank said three people and two cats who resided in the house were all accounted for and there were no injuries. The house was rented and the house is insured, but the tenants did not have insurance.

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