Nine occupants of an Upper Village residential complex were displaced last Thursday (Oct. 24) following a structural fire that took hours for firefighters to contain.
Whistler Fire Rescue responded to a structural fire at the Treeline condominium complex at Benchlands at approximately 4 a.m. Occupants reported hearing a loud explosion, presumably caused by a nearby barbecue tank, and saw flames coming from the rear of the building before calling 911.
Assistant Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood said the fire spread quickly, originating in the centre unit of a five-block condo unit, and appeared to come from the area of an exterior balcony. A defensive exterior attack was initiated to deal with the fire after it was determined that all occupants were safely out of the building.
"There had been a bunch of recycling around, a lot of cardboard and paper, and it was common for residents to smoke out there," said Kirkwood. "There was certainly evidence of cigarette butts around, so certainly the fire investigation leads to that area."
The blaze eventually made its way into the building's soffits and roof space with concerns for the structural integrity of the roof structure along with the vaulted ceilings hampering the efforts of the 36 fire fighters from three halls who remained on scene until approximately 10 a.m. when the fire was extinguished.
The building was then turned over to security to continue a fire watch. Crews returned to the scene on two occasions the day of the blaze to deal with smouldering debris, which reignited the blaze, according to Kirkwood.
Whistler Emergency Social Services came to the assistance of nine displaced occupants from the building, none of whom were able to retrieve any of their belongings before the fire spread. The occupants did not have tenant insurance, said Kirkwood, and two of the displaced have moved back to Kelowna as a result of the fire.
The blaze remains under investigation.