Fire destroys vacant house Tuesday night

Neighbours lauded firefighters for their speed and efficiency after an abandoned house went up in flames around midnight Tuesday.

The blaze took down the old blue house on Cowichan Lake Road.

“The firefighters were amazing,” said nearby resident Amy Powell, who managed to snap a few photos of the volunteer crews hard at work.

“It could have been a different outcome especially if the trees caught fire,” she added.

The risk of spreading is what South End fire hall deputy chief Brad Coleman said prompted the call for mutual aid from the Duncan Fire Department.

“There was a lot of exposure to the brush and trees,” he said. “They helped us initially and then they peeled away and we finished off.”

At the peak, about 35 firefighters were on the scene.

It only took about a half an hour to knock the flames down, Coleman said, but the rest of the overnight hours were spent mopping up hot spots.

Firefighters monitored the site and were back in the morning to ensure a rekindle wouldn’t happen.

“The roof came in and there was a lot of brick and debris on the floor so we basically just flooded it from outside and then it still had a little bit of heat in the floor joists so we couldn’t get at it,” he explained.

“I brought a machine in this morning and we went through all of the debris with a machine and hosed it as he was digging through it.”

The benefit of the abandoned structure burning right to the ground is safety, said the deputy chief.

“At least it’s level and more safe now,” Coleman said. “It’s pretty much flattened out as opposed to a semi-standing structure.”

It’s the third fire at an abandoned home in the last month. Fires at two abandoned houses in Duncan in mid June left police and firefighters on heightened alert and on the lookout for a firebug.

The first fire was on Festubert Street and reported about 6:30 p.m. on June 13. The second fire, at a home on Second Street, was reported just before 10 p.m. the following night.

Another abandoned home, across the street from the house that burned on Tuesday, was destroyed by fire in January.

Coleman said he’s not sure yet what ignited the blaze but at this point he doesn’t believe it’s suspicious.

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