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Three people escape house fire in Harewood

A fire investigator said three people were lucky to escape unharmed from a fire in a two-storey home on Hillcrest Avenue early Tuesday morning.

Flames broke out in the home's ground floor entrance foyer shortly after 3:30 a.m. when a space heater under a coat rack caught combustible materials on fire.

The resulting blaze caused heavy smoke and heat damage to the downstairs suite, which was occupied by one woman who escaped through the patio doors of the house, and burned through the floor of an upstairs apartment occupied by a man and his daughter.

The blaze was discovered by the father when he woke up and smelled smoke in the building.

"He ran over and woke his daughter up and told her to get out," said Capt. Ennis Mond, head of Nanaimo Fire Rescue's fire and loss prevention unit. "He then went downstairs and pounded on the door of the woman who lives downstairs."

Everyone escaped unharmed even though Mond discovered someone had switched off the breaker to the smoke alarms, he said.

"They were lucky get out alive, as far as I'm concerned, without working smoke alarms," Mond said.

By the time firefighters arrived the fire had spread to the outside of the building and into the carport, which is where crews first attacked the blaze.

"The guys did a good job knocking it down and the story of the day is again, make sure you have working smoke alarms," Mond said.

None of the tenants had insurance, but the building owner is insured.

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