Port Alberni fire crews were called out to a house fire in the 3700-block of Seventh Avenue just before 9 a.m. on Aug. 7.
”Upon arrival there was heavy smoke showing from all around the eaves and flame just starting to show from the back rear corner of the house,” Capt. Randy Thoen said. “We also had a report of a possible occupant in the house.”
Crews entered the home and quickly searched the main living area but no one was home at the time, he said.
A second fire truck and crew were called in to help extinguish the fire, which was concentrated in the back of the house. “Fire damage was contained to the back rear corner of the home,“ Thoen said, adding that there is heat and smoke damage throughout the structure.
Neighbour Brandy Wutke was getting into her car to go to work when she saw smoke coming from the house across the street. She started blaring her car horn to get someone’s attention.
“When I came up (to the house) flames were coming out of the bedroom window,” she said. “I was banging on the door and screaming.”
Wutke called 911.
Thoen said no one was in the house at the time of the blaze. Fire crews and a bylaw enforcement officer were able to reach the homeowner, who was at work when the fire occurred.
Neighbours gathered on the sidewalk along Seventh Avenue noticed two firefighters were scrubbed down thoroughly with soap and water. Thoen said this is a normal practice now, particularly for firefighters that have made the initial entry into a burning building.
“Our practice now, due to all the issues we deal with inside a fire in terms of carcinogenic material and other bad things, is to thoroughly clean people in what we call a ‘gross decon’ (decontamination) at the scene, using soap and water and brushes,” he explained.
“It’s so they can leave the main part of the debris at the fire scene which is going to get cleaned up anyway. Then we’re not bringing that stuff back to the firehall to mess up the area that we live and work in.
”If a particular member has been exposed to debris at a fire scene, they may get a more thorough scrubbing than others.”