Calling it an “accident waiting to happen,” Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said he attended the duplex involved in last Friday’s house fire on First Street involving hash oil two days prior to the explosion.
Bardonnex explained he visited the A side of the home because of neighbours who noted an alarm at the home was ringing.
“I wasn’t sure what it was – it didn’t sound like a smoke detector, and it didn’t sound like a low battery so I’m really not sure what was happening in there, but we didn’t have a legal right to enter the building. It was secure, the windows were open and there wasn’t any smoke coming out of it,” he noted.
Bardonnex then knocked on the door of the B side – where Friday’s fire originated – and three women were in the home, whom he spoke with to receive homeowner contact information.
The A side of the duplex was unoccupied, Comox Valley RCMP confirmed.
The home, which was blown off its foundation, is now reported to be structurally unsound, and will require assessment for safety and rehabitation.
Police noted they located multiple butane cylinders.
“It’s a great fire hazard. People are focusing on what they’re trying to achieve and not looking at the process they’re doing trying to achieve them,” said Bardonnex.
“Using butane in all places in a basement is just an accident waiting to happen.”
Once the blast happened, the fire was attacked like a normal structure fire, he explained.
“The difference being, it massively grows in size instantaneously.”
Three men, aged 25, 28 and 29 years old, are all from the Comox Valley and remain hospitalized in serious to critical condition. They were not previously known to police and were not residents of the duplex.