A fire destroyed a home Monday night in the 6700 block of Eagle Bay Road at Cinnemousin Narrows Properties.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District Fire Services Co-ordinator Kenn Mount says the property is about two to three kilometres beyond the local fire suppression area, outside of CSRD’s response jurisdiction.
“Taxpayers pay for fire suppression and there is a defined boundary driven by the Fire Underwriters Survey, which establishes how far we go and the type of rate residents enjoy based on water supply and proximity to a fire hall,” says Mount, noting the regional district’s response to the fire was limited. “We can run the risk of having an incident within boundaries with all the apparatuses outside of the fire suppression area.”
To provide some assistance, the Eagle Bay Firehall staged apparatus on the fire suppression boundary and sent in a single secondary unit with minimal manpower to make sure the fire didn’t spread to the forest or into the fire suppression boundary.
“We would only suppress it if it was a great threat but there were no immediate life safety issues and it wasn’t going to impact other areas,” said Mount Wednesday. “Imagine if this was a month ago in extreme heat; that would have had a different tactical response.”
Mount says it sounds like the cause of the fire was a wood stove where flames got out onto the shake roof.
“We probably would have been able to contain it to the roof,” he said. “We were lucky it was raining and the winds were calm. Mother Nature was supportive and residents were able to confine it to the property.”
Mount spoke with the homeowner, who he says has been in the home for about a month, and put him in touch with CSRD’s Emergency Social Services.
“We also sent out fire officers to make sure the overhaul was done properly,” he says, noting it is a phase in suppressing the fire in which remaining property is salvaged and heavy equipment is used to overturn everything to make sure there are no hot spots that might flare up. “We were doing our own due diligence.”
Mount says homeowners who live beyond fire suppression boundaries have to pay a huge premium, typically more than double the cost of insurance within boundary lines.
“You have to understand the risk,” he says of people who buy property beyond fire suppression areas. “Hitting that range (distance) would require a satellite firehall.”
Mount says he gets a couple of requests for service extensions every year.
But the process of extending fire suppression services is lengthy and involves many issues and a lot of research, including distance from a firehall, access to water, analyzing properties and more.
He says some areas of the regional district are “maxed out” in terms of the number of properties already receiving the service.
While the number of chimney fires is declining – 10 in 2012, four in 2014 and six so far this year, Mount reminds homeowners that this is the time to make sure chimneys are clean, especially where there is no fire service.
Meanwhile, the Eagle Bay fire is under investigation by the RCMP.