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Baseboard heater likely cause of Eva Lake complex fire

One unit will be completely gutted but building saved



The Eva Lake complex fire, which led to around 15 people being made homeless, was likely caused by an electrical-related malfunction.

Fire Chief Rob Whitton of Whistler Fire Rescue said he met the electrical inspector on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and they both believed the wiring of a baseboard heater might have been the problem.

"We can't definitively say that it is the cause, but all things are pointing to it, given the type of fire that it was and where it was located, it is really only the source of ignition that was viable. There is too much damage and not enough remaining to find that 'smoking gun' where we can go 'a-ha!'" he said.

Whitton said two units had been turned over to insurance investigators and the plan was to remove the belongings of those displaced by the Oct. 7 fire. There are eight units in the complex in total.

Stabilization would be added to secure the structural damage from the fire, but the overall building is viable, apart from one unit that is likely to be completely gutted and another that will likely need to be partially gutted, he added.

The remainder will need some work because the insulation between floors absorbed water from the firefighters.

The two units most affected by the blaze had six people living there, three in each.

"I don't know how long the building will be empty but they are working quite quickly on it," Whitton said.

Those made homeless were given six days' accommodation from emergency social services, double the usual number of days, he added, along with vouchers for clothes and other items for the interim, until they can empty their units. Whitton did not know what was planned to help the homeless residents for the long term.

The fire chief recommended that rental residents take out property insurance.

Rachel Bailey, who works at Crystal Lodge along with some others also affected by the fire, hoped to retrieve some of her possessions from Eva Lake on Tuesday.

"We haven't found anything more out. They have been closed for Thanksgiving weekend. They're back in the unit (Tuesday)," she said.

She and some of the other staff members who were made homeless remain at the Crystal Lodge.


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