Updated Dec. 28 with comments from Fire Chief Kurt MacDonald
Five residents have been displaced after a fire broke out in a house on the 1200 block of 5th Street in Courtenay, late Monday afternoon.
“I was at work and I got a call that the house was on fire,” said Amy Patton, one of the five residents in the rental home. “It started in the basement, but I don’t know much more. There was a plumber down there, trying to fix some frozen pipes.”
All five occupants, as well as three dogs and a cat, escaped.
Firefighters were still on the scene Monday evening.
“(The call came in) shortly after 4:30 p.m.,” said Courtenay Fire Department Chief Kurt MacDonald, adding all occupants and pets were out of the home by the time the fire department arrived. “It did start in the lowest point of the house – the plumber was thawing out some pipes with a heat gun and some insulation took off and ran the wall and up into the attic.”
MacDonald said there were some unusual challenges dealing with this fire.
“The house had been renovated over the years, so there were lots of void spaces up in the attic, and multiple layers of ceilings and wall coverings, so doing the work necessary to expose those areas was very challenging. Also with the colder temperatures, which obviously is an anomaly for us here… working in -9C presented some challenges that we are not accustomed to as well.”
Firefighters used a ladder truck to gain access to some of the tough spots.
“It wasn’t there to attack the fire so much as it was to allow us to gain access to those areas,” said MacDonald. “It was just safer for us to work off the aerial ladder rather than using ground ladders, with all the ice and snow that we were dealing with.”
All residents were provided accommodations through the Emergency Support Services.