With less than two weeks until Christmas, two Oyster River families are without their homes following an overnight fire early Tuesday morning in the community north of the Comox Valley.
Around 10:30 p.m., the Oyster River Fire Department responded to a fire at a duplex at 4748 Upland Road.
Oyster River fire chief Bruce Green noted the blaze might have started from an unattended candle.
“You never want to leave candles unattended. It’s one of the Christmas, Fire Smart, ‘power out’ messages,” he told CTV Vancouver Island.
Fire crews were able to put out the initial fire and following multiple checks of the building with heat sensors, Green said crews left around 1 a.m.
Shortly after 3 a.m., the department received a second page as another fire broke out in the same home.
“The deputy chief came by at ten after 2. There was no smoke or anything at that time. Then we got paged for the fire at 3:10. When I arrived, the whole roof from one end to the other end was fully engulfed,” said Green.
“Hindsight is 20/20 — we’re still going to do an investigation now to determine what caused the flare-up. We’re unsure at this time as to why it rekindled.
“We still want to do an investigation as to what caused it because we’re unsure, but I’m sick to my stomach … I feel bad – guilty that we didn’t do our job – I didn’t do my job and that this happened.”
Green added seven people in total were inside the home at the time, and one family of three went to the hospital to be examined for smoke inhalation.
Elizabeth Kuss, the daughter of the landlord of the duplex credited the fire department for their assistance.
“I’m devastated for the tenants but the fire department did all they could and … it’s a terrible time of year for this to happen. These firemen went out of their way to protect this house. My hat’s off to them — they are all volunteers and they’ve been up all night.”
She noted what is most important is that the tenants are safe, and the Oyster River community will rally together to assist the families.
“Our community in Oyster River is absolutely fantastic. They will be fine. We will support and love them and get them what they need. The holidays and the rental situation in Campbell River – there is none. It’s going to affect a lot of people,” said Kuss.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist at gofundme.com/oyster-river-fire.