Back-to-back fires destroy south Nanaimo homes

NANAIMO – Two fires tie up fire services and displace residents on the weekend.

Two fires that started just minutes apart destroyed homes and workshops, and displaced two families in south Nanaimo on the weekend.

Cranberry and North Cedar volunteer fire departments responded to a blaze in the basement of a rental house at 2792 Haslam Rd. at 4:38 a.m. Sunday.

Percy Tipping, North Cedar fire chief, said the fire was spotted in the basement of the home by one of the residents.

“There were some flames in the basement – he was in the basement – and tried to extinguish the fire himself initially and then that didn’t work so he called the fire department,” Tipping said.

The basement of the house was heavily fire damaged with heat and smoke damage throughout the rest of the house.

A family of four has been displaced and one of their two dogs remains unaccounted for.

Tipping said the property was insured, but he did not know if the tenants had insurance. The structure was so heavily damaged it will likely have to be torn down, he said.

The formal investigation into the cause of the fire, which hasn’t been determined, started Monday morning.

Cranberry firefighters who initially responded to the Haslam fire, were forced to break off just after 5 a.m. to tackle a major blaze in a workshop at 2168 Waring Rd.

“There were various numbers of vehicles, propane tanks and every other thing around there,” said Ron Gueulette, Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department chief.

The blaze was so large and intense Gueulette had to call in mutual aid from North Cedar, Ladysmith, North Oyster and Extension fire departments.

“There were several buildings,” Gueulette said. “There was exposure to a neighbour’s yard that started on fire, plus there was another outbuilding that was full of car paints and stuff like that. Five cars burned up.”

A home attached to the workshop was also a total loss.

Three people living in the home escaped unharmed.

The cause of that fire remained undetermined as of Monday morning as well.

Donations for the Bartolo family, who lost everything in the fire on Waring Road, can be made by visiting www.gofundme.com/bartolofamily.