House fire cut short thanks to alert neighbour

SYLVIE PAILLARD / Kamloops Daily News
November 12, 2012 01:00 AM

Two Kamloops families are safe thanks to a working fire alarm and an alert neighbour.

Just before noon on Monday, Kamloops firefighters beat down flames consuming a kitchen at 617 Comox Ave. on the North Shore.

The home's basement tenant, Marielle Miles, spotted the fire in her upstairs neighbours' suite and called 911.

She had just returned from playing in the snow with her two-year-old son when she heard the upstairs fire alarm go off.

"I didn't hear anyone go after it and I started to worry because I started to smell an electrical sort of fire," said Miles.

She stepped outside and noticed the neighbours' vehicle wasn't around. She peered into their kitchen window to see flames shooting out of a pot on the stove, up a wall and into an overhead range hood.

"I freaked out, yelled 'Oh my God!' grabbed my phone and my two-year-old and went outside and dialled 911," she said.

Within minutes, fire engines arrived.

"The fire got into the ceiling space above the cabinets above the stove and our guys were able to knock it down fairly quickly and efficiently before it got going in the attic space," said assistant fire chief Curtis Bossert.

The upstairs tenants were away but three cats also lived in the building. Miles was able to get her cat out and firefighters were able to save an upstairs cat named Precious, but another is missing and presumed to have run out of the house.

Lance Saunders lived in the suite where the fire began with his girlfriend, a two-year-old and a three-year-old.

Saunders said he's still unsure how the fire started.

Bossert said Saunders reported being gone and back within 10 minutes, and in that time, the fire ignited.

The tenants are now homeless. Victim Services is providing three days of food and lodging.

Saunders said he's insured so his family won't be left wanting.

Miles is not insured, but she said her suite is undamaged and although she can detect a slightly smoky smell, she said she believes her belongings are fine.

Fire investigators and the homeowner's insurers will assess the integrity of the house before deciding whether she can return.

In the meantime, others can learn lessons from the incident, said Bossert.

"Two things to remember: don't leave a pot on a stove unattended even for a short period of time, and the smoke alarm probably helped save quite a bit more damage from happening."

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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