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'Pool area heater' cause, origin of Villa Motel fire

Nelson Fire Rescue said video evidence shows visible flame at least 30 minutes prior to the fire being noticed by a motel guest. — The Nelson Daily photo

A heater in the pool area has been determined as the cause, and origin, of a fire in early November at the Villa Motel near the North Shore entrance to the Big Orange Bridge on Highway 3A said Nelson Fire Rescue in a media release Monday.

Located at 644 Highway 3A, the fire, which was reported at 4:5'5 a.m., caused extensive damage to the motel’s Pool Building.

“The most probable cause points to a heater in the pool area,” said the NFR media release. “The fire spread from the heater to the ceiling above and burned in the void space undetected for a quite some time.”

“Video evidence shows visible flame at least one-half hour prior to the fire being noticed by a motel guest and calling 911,” the release went on to say. “When the 911 call was made the fire had taken hold in the void space of the pool ceiling and had burned through the floor of one of the rooms above and into the ceiling above that.”

Nelson Fire Rescue said initial attack crews were able to extinguish all visible fire, but firefighters were not able to access the ceiling area over the pool as it was full of water. 

Nelson Fire Rescue said the floor above the pool building was structurally compromised, preventing crews from working in that area. 

“Ultimately a defensive fire attack strategy was utilized which contributed to the length of time that was required to extinguish the fire completely,” Nelson Fire Rescue said.

Five departments from the Regional District of Central Kootenay were called to assist in fighting the fire by providing water tenders to shuttle water from the hydrant to the fire scene. BC Ambulance and Nelson Police Department also assisted.

“This is an evolution that we train on annually with our RDCK partners and is certified by the Fire Underwriters Survey,” Nelson Fire Rescue said. “We also used a fire engine drafting water from the lake to supply water for the ladder truck to ensure a continuous supply.”

Nelson Fire Rescue would like to remind the public about heater safety after the area was hit with its first major snowfall of the season.

“Before turning up the heat this winter, make sure heating appliances and chimneys have been inspected to ensure they are working properly and safe to operate,” Nelson Fire Rescue said.

WOOD HEAT?

A significant number of fires through the winter months are chimney fires.  Have yours checked to see if it has a dangerous build-up of creosote or dangerous cracks in the lining.  Look for a “WETT” certified tradesperson.  Also, be sure you are familiar with how your chimney's flue works.

ELECTRIC HEAT? 

To avoid electrical fires, change furnace filters and keep a 3 ft radius around furnace clear of any combustibles. Never leave space heaters unattended and turn it off when you are leaving a room or going to sleep.  Do not use extension cords with your heaters and protect the cords from damage by not running them underneath rugs or other areas where they may get stepped on.

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