Owner returns from holiday to house on fire

A Qualicum Beach woman returned from a trip to the UK Friday afternoon, to discover her house damaged by fire.

This house on Garden Avenue in Qualicum Beach was extensively damaged by fire Friday morning.

It’s a question many of us ask ourselves when we return home after a long trip: is the house still there?

For a Qualicum Beach woman on Friday, the answer was, yes, it was still there, but much of her house was destroyed by fire.

At around 6 a.m. Friday morning, Qualicum Beach firefighters responded to calls of a house on fire in the 100 block of Garden Avenue. Fire Chief Darryl Kohse says 15 firefighters arrived on scene to find flames pouring from the roof of the home.

He said a neighbour has been banging on door and windows to see if anyone was inside. Another neighbour quickly informed them that the owner was away on a trip to the United Kingdom for about a month. No one was inside the house and no one was injured, including any of the firefighters.

The fire was contained to the single house, as neighbours Peter Gilmour and Deb McArthur used a sprinkler atop their shed to keep the fire from spreading. The couple, who only moved into their home next door a month ago from Kamloops, said it was quite a way to meet their neighbours.

Kohse said the crew, including five or six firefighters from the Dashwood volunteer department, removed much of the owners’ belongings one the fire was out. The roof, however, was extensively damaged in the fire, and much of it collapsed in on the house.

The bright spot, he noted, was that the owner, after she arrived at around 1 p.m. that day, was in good spirits over the loss.

“She was a little upset,” he said, “but was in good spirits.”

Kohse noted her family was there to support her and the owner, who neighbours say is in her 80s, plans to rebuild. The home was insured.

Kohse said the cause of the blaze is believed to be electrical in nature. At this early stage, he said the exact cause is not 100 per cent determined, and the department plans on returning to the house to investigate further. Kohse added he did not think – nor did the insurance adjustor – the fire was caused by a BC Hydro smart meter, as alleged at the fire scene by passers-by, and in an email to The News.

“There’s no determination that that was the cause,” he said. “There is no indication of a power surge, or even if there is a smart meter.”

He noted the fire appeared to have started in a part of the roof away from the house’s power meter.

A spokesperson from BC Hydro called The News Monday to let us know that the house in question was not equipped with a smart meter — echoing comments given to The News earlier by the fire Chief.

Already, clean-up and security crews are at the house.

Updated to add comments from BC Hydro

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