DAVE Jephson of the Terrace Fire Department examines damage from a fire at an unoccupied house last night.

Firefighters extinguish Terrace, B.C. house fire

Cause thought to be electrical; house vacant at the time

Fire officials say last night’s Keith Avenue house fire may have smouldered for hours before flames burst out through the back window and someone called 9-1-1.

The fire started in the back bedroom of the unoccupied and vacant house at 4823 Keith Ave. beside Convoy Supply Ltd., said deputy fire chief Dave Jephson from the Terrace Fire Department.

“It burned for a long time undetected before it breached the outside… It could have been hours, smouldering and burning away,” he said, explaining that with no furniture and materials inside, the fuel source was limited to the gyprock walls.

“We can tell it burned for a long time because there was a lot of heat in there,” Jephson added, pointing at a melted lightbulb and a melted electrical outlet, as well as peeling paint and condensation all over the charred inside walls.

Jephson said someone saw the billowing smoke and called 9-1-1 at 9:38 p.m. last night.

The Terrace Fire Department responded with trucks and 18 firefighters, and Jephson said the house was full of intense heat and black smoke when they arrived.

Flames in the back bedroom had just broken through the window and were beginning to engulf the eaves.

“There was a lot of smoke… the house was fully charged,” said Jephson. “If you open up the front door, there [would be] a huge explosion and it [could] kill people, because it’s introducing oxygen.”

“That was obviously a big concern to us,” he said.

Firefighters targeted the flames through the blown out back window first and then used high-powered fans at the front door to clear the building before entering to finish off the fire.

Jephson said crews were successfully able to contain the fire and keep if from burning anywhere else in the house.

One firefighter twisted his wrist while pulling a hose a truck with his heavy gear on.

While the fire was mostly contained in the bedroom, the 900-square-foot building was severely smoke damaged. Jephson says it could be salvaged, but all the gyprock would need to be removed.

Though the fire investigation is not complete, Jephson said they believe it was caused by an electrical issue.

“In this case, nobody is home, there is no gas, there is no fuel load, they hadn’t worked in here for days,” he explained. “They weren’t doing any gas or soldering or pipe work, all the doors were locked, and everything was sealed up.”

He added that the back window was blown out, not smashed in.

The owners are working out the details with insurance.