Hitacu resident Tissa Jewett captured this photograph of a house engulfed in flames early Sunday morning. (Photo- Tissa Jewett)

Hitacu resident Tissa Jewett captured this photograph of a house engulfed in flames early Sunday morning. (Photo- Tissa Jewett)

UPDATED: Fire destroys Ucluelet First Nation home

Crews from Tofino, Ucluelet and Hitacu spend over three hours battling blaze

A Ucluelet First Nation home was destroyed by a fire in Hitacu Sunday morning.

Ucluelet’s fire chief Rick Geddes told the Westerly News that the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to the scene at 2:22 a.m. and immediately raced to their neighbouring community to battle the blaze, but found the two-storey home already engulfed.

“I was the first one on scene and the house was fully involved. There were flames through the roof,” Geddes said. “At that point, there was nothing we could really save from the house, we were more concerned about saving the neighbours’ houses because of the proximity. So, that became our focus, just containing it to the point of origin…It was right in a residential area there.”

Hitacu’s fire crew and the Ucluelet Brigade were joined at the scene by members from the Tofino Volunteer Fire Department, who brought their ladder truck from their community, roughly 42 kilometres away.

“I called Tofino for help right away,” Geddes said. “It was really a nice favour that they did, sending what they could.”

He said no injuries have been reported and no one is believed to have been in the home when the fire occurred. He added that neighbours advised that the people living in the home had moved out several days ago.

“It was not safe for us to go in and search it to see if anybody was in there, but the information we have is that there was nobody in there,” he said.

He said it took the three fire crews roughly three hours to put the fire out, but the home was destroyed and partially collapsed during the blaze.

“There’s nothing left of it,” he said adding all three crews worked well together to save the surrounding homes.

“We had two guys that were on the nozzle for the entire time, three-plus hours, and that’s hard work. There’s a lot of force in that hose and just to move it around is tough. So, the two guys on the hose there really busted their butts for the community and that was really cool to see.”

An investigation into what caused the fire is underway, but the cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Hitacu resident Tissa Jewett told the Westerly News she was alerted to the fire when her son “saw a flame shooting off our neighbour’s house and heard screaming.”

She said she immediately called 911 and was unsure if anyone was trapped inside the burning home.

“All around the chimney it was going up in flames…I couldn’t remember if the house was currently occupied or not and it was going really fast,” she said. “I watched this house go from just the flames on one corner by the chimney, to fully engulfed; the power lines melted off, the back wall had fallen off and the side wall had fallen off in about 20 minutes.”

She added the community quickly gathered at the scene and there was panic over whether anyone was inside.

“A lot of people who came up were all coming distraught to see if anybody had been in the house,” she said.

She suggested it took roughly 45 minutes for the first fire truck to arrive from Ucluelet, roughly 15 kilometres away, and she became very concerned for the safety of bystanders.

“The great thing about when the hose truck arrived, was they started clearing the area because many people were really close to the fire, which became my biggest concern because no one could tell there were downed power lines because all of the street lights around there had gone out from the fire,” she said. “I’m wondering about the response time, but I’m also wondering whose responsibility it is to clear a hazardous scene that could have resulted in a fatality.”

She said a person at the scene later claimed to have been inside the home when the fire started, but he had escaped without injury.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Ucluelet hires first full-time fire chief

READ MORE: Tofino’s Solwood to be reborn after fire

READ MORE: Ucluelet shakes up emergency services, removes manager, eyes new sirens

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Hotel Zed Tofino. (Westerly file photo)
Two Tofino businesses up for building awards

14th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read