On Friday, the work began to pick up the pieces of Thursday night's hostage taking and explosion that left a 48-year-old man dead, a single mother and her four children fleeing and a house burnt into a charred skeleton.
Residents of Cannel Drive came back to their homes during the day — homes that Kamloops RCMP urged them to leave the night before after a Surrey electrician entered 1486 with a long gun and a van rigged with explosives blocking the driveway.
The man's 44-year-old ex-girlfriend, who had broken up with him two years before, was in the house with her four children, ages eight to 13, and her current boyfriend.
Police said the man fired a shot into the ceiling and ordered everyone out — except the ex-girlfriend. The boyfriend grabbed three children and ran while the fourth child escaped through a bedroom window.
They ran to the Adolph home two doors down. Rose Adolph, whose two teenage children know the kids in the house, said the boyfriend arrived first.
"He said, 'Call 911. This isn't a joke. There's a gun kidnapping next door.'"
She called, then handed the phone over to the panicked man who spoke to the dispatcher.
Adolph said the oldest of the four children in the home at 1486 Cannel — a 13-year-old girl — got her nine- and 11-year-old brothers and eight-year-old sister out and brought them to Adolph's home shortly after the boyfriend arrived.
(The police reports vary on this point. Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said the differing details haven't been sorted out yet.)
The group remained at her home as police arrived, filling the cul-de-sac with eight cruisers and armed officers.
At 6:30 p.m., they were escorted out of Adolph's home by police. They drove the boyfriend and the kids to the RCMP detachment downtown.
"They were scared, worried about their mother," Adolph said. After a while at the detachment, they left and went to stay with family for the night.
"They moved in a few months ago. Very nice family. Hard-working single mom," she said.
Meanwhile, police were evacuating homes in the neighbourhood and trying to make contact with the man inside the house.
Learned said phone contact was made after 7 p.m. That's when police found out the man was distraught about the breakup from two years ago.
The relationship had never been violent, but the man had called the woman, sent her texts and left gifts on her Kamloops doorstep. It was serious enough that she reported him to police, but not enough to make anyone think it could turn into what happened Thursday night.
"She wasn't fearful of him because there were no incidents of aggression," he said. "He was having an amazingly difficult time letting go."
Learned didn't believe the man was the children's father, as his last name is different. No names are being released at this time by police.
The man did have a background with police — not in Kamloops — for incidents involving emotional distress.
But on Thursday night, he arrived at Cannel Drive with explosives in his van, some wired to the gas tank, explosives on his body and explosives in a package he took into the house with him.
And a long gun.
He gave police enough detail that they believed he could detonate the van remotely. That meant there was danger to those inside the house and outside in the vicinity.
Around midnight, the negotiations paid off — the woman was safely released.
"We tried to keep him talking after she was released," Learned said.
Ten minutes later, the phone line went silent.
"Shots were heard from inside the house."
But they were likely not shots; Learned believes it was the sound of the bombs being detonated inside. Flames were soon seen flickering inside the house.
That posed another danger. The man had explosives on him and in a package and the van, parked nearby, also contained a pipe bomb and had explosives wired to the gas tank.
"The front of the house was fully engulfed and fire was going into the roof," Learned said. A third explosion blasted inside the house.
How were firefighters to contain the blaze without getting hurt?
They were initially kept at bay as the house burned. No one was sure whether all the explosives in the house had gone off, if the van might explode, and if the man was still alive and had his weapon.
In the dark, Learned saw someone running from the area. As he recounted what happened Friday, the danger of the situation choked him up.
Two members of the Vancouver bomb squad — wearing bulletproof vests but not their bomb gear — ran to the van to assess how much range the devices might have.
"They had run up to the van to make an assessment of the risk. They put themselves at great risk," he said.
What they saw was a vehicle rigged with enough explosives to kill or seriously harm someone with impact or fragments.
"It was the key to the decision-making to keep the firefighters at a distance."
The firefighters trained their hoses on the van to keep it cool as the house burned. They also tried to fight the blaze from the back — whatever angles they could get at while keeping a safe distance.
It was difficult for firefighters and police officers to have to watch and keep their distance, he said.
"Our number one commitment is the protection of life and property."
They kept the fire from spreading, although the house was gutted.
Then came the job of dismantling the van's explosives. As dawn broke Friday, the bomb squad used a robot to remove and neutralize the explosives.
With that done, police tape has been put up at what is now officially labeled a crime scene.
Learned said two officers are being posted on site to keep it secure. The body is still there.
Normally firefighters would get in and douse the hot spots. But because it's a crime scene, they can't go in and dig about. Instead, police will have to wait until the fire cools naturally, which Learned said might not happen until Saturday or Sunday.
Then investigators will have to go in and sift through the debris looking for any other evidence of the explosives and for the remains of the man who shook a neighbourhood's peace and a family's peace of mind.