Flames and smoke can be seen billowing from the roof of a Merville residence, Friday afternoon. Photo by Marc Kitteringham

VIDEO: Structure fire at home on Highway 19A north of Courtenay

Firefighting units from throughout the Comox Valley were called out to a structure fire at a residence on Highway 19A in Merville, Friday afternoon.

Traffic was at a standstill as numerous units tended to the blaze, just north of the Merville General Store.

Black Press reporter Marc Kitteringham was on hand to capture photos and video before first responders arrived.

There were no occupants inside at the time of the fire.

“From what I understand, the owners had a renter that had left less than a month ago,” said Oyster River Fire Department Chief Bruce Green.

While the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation, it is not suspicious in nature.

“There were no injuries,” said Green. “The fire started on the second floor.”

More than 30 firefighters responded to the call, from Merville, Oyster River, and the Courtenay fire departments.

“This was the first official fire call since the Merville hall was opened,” said Green, who is also the chief of that satellite station. “We’ve had four calls so far; that was the first one for a fire, and it was a big one. So it is filling a need.”

Green said the addition of the Merville hall not only improves the fire service in the area, but also the first responder service.

“We are doing first responder service , which is a huge asset for the community,” he said. “We are going to get there sometimes the same time as the ambulance, but sometimes 10 or 15 minutes before, which is, once again, filling a need for the community.”

Green said it took approximately 20-25 minutes to knock down the original blaze, but firefighters remained on scene all afternoon.

“We were there for four hours,” he said. “It was an older house, with a lot of nooks and crannies. Because of the extent of the involvement by the time we showed up, it wasn’t safe for firefighters to enter the house, so we were doing a lot of it from the outside.”

Green said there was one flare-up, which was quickly extinguished. He added there was never any concern about neighbouring structures.

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