Ucluelet’s fire chief is praising his crew for making short work of a residential blaze on Tuesday.
“It was a real good turnout which was amazing…I can’t express how amazed I was at the turnout and the quick job they did to go in, find the fire and knock it down,” Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Rick Geddes told the Westerly News. “I was actually overjoyed with the response. Given that it was the middle of the day, when most of my members are at work and it’s the middle of summer and tourist season…I was overwhelmed with how many turned out. We had every piece of apparatus there and just about every active member was able to get there. That really reassured my comfort level as to how safe we are in this town with this group.”
Geddes said a resident reported smoke coming from a residential neighbourhood in the south-end of town around 12:50 p.m.
He was the first to arrive on scene and, while no flames were visible, a bystander was hosing down the back wall of the residence, which had smoke billowing from it.
He said his first priority was finding out whether anybody was inside the home.
“The doors were all locked, so we had to break the front door to get in and do a search to make sure nobody was in there,” he said. “I went in and did a search of the top floor and nobody was there, but it was too smokey for me to go downstairs.”
He said volunteer firefighters began arriving in short order and were able to suit up and conduct search of the bottom floor.
“They went downstairs and made clear that nobody was in there and then the next priority was to find the fire,” he said.
He said the source of the fire was found to be inside the back wall of the house and the most likely cause was an electrical wiring malfunction.
He said that whenever a structure fire is reported in either Tofino or Ucluelet, both town’s fire crew automatically get paged to respond, but prior to Tofino arriving at the scene, 15 members of the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire brigade had shown up.
“I was able to stand Tofino down before they got here because I had enough resources at that point,” he said.
He said the fire took several hours to fully extinguish and caused significant damage.
“The house is uninhabitable right now until it’s repaired. The whole back wall of the house basically needs to be replaced,” he said.
He added the area was secured with help from Ucluelet’s public works department and the home’s Vancouver-based owners were alerted to the situation.
He said the crew had a lull in activity through the spring and early summer due to the coronavirus pandemic and consequential shut down of tourism, but calls have increased as the town has reopened.
“As the tourists started coming back and things started opening up, we’re sort of back to what I would say is normal for this time of year. It’s been pretty busy for the past couple of weeks with a variety of different types of calls,” he said. “That will dwindle down when the busy summer season wraps up.”
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