Seventeen firefighters helped douse a fire that destroyed a former picker's cabin in East Kelowna. A wood stove left burning after the resident left for work ignited the house fire, a fire official said.
The 41-year-old, who shares custody of his two young sons, stoked up his wood stove to keep the place warm before leaving for work in the morning, said Platoon Capt. Tim Light. By 11:30 a.m., fire trucks were driving up Feeny Road as flames flared out all the windows of the 50-year-old cabin.
Firefighters drove slowly along the icy driveway winding through the treed property to reach the blaze. The closest water source was hundreds of metres away, so they used a tender truck to supply the hoses.
Two power lines were down, forcing firefighters to be extra cautious. One used a circular saw to cut into the wooden wall so crews could spray water into the cabin's interior. They found no one inside.
The resident, named Stu, called his neighbour Calvin Kuipers from work and asked him to check out the damage. Two additions had been attached to the main cabin, so the house had a family room, kitchen and two bedrooms, one of them for the boys when they stayed there, Kuipers said.
"He lost everything. . . . He's been here two years."
The property owner has no insurance for the former picker's cabin, and Stu had no contents insurance. The fire department offered him three nights' accommodation from Emergency Support Services, but he declined. ESS will replace some of the boys' clothes and toys, said Light.
He advises people who use wood stoves to take all precautions before leaving the house.
"As comfy and cozy as wood heat is, we have to take it seriously," he said. "Make sure there are no combustibles around the wood heater and make sure it has a clear area around it."