Two house fires at the same time caused some anxious moments for Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews over the weekend.
A house on Uplands Drive was extensively damaged by a fire in the wee hours Sunday, and soon after that, a coach house on Haliburton Street burned down.
Seven people got out of the Uplands house, as a family that lived there had two visitors at the time. The four-alarm fire was called in at about 2:40 a.m. and when firefighters arrived, “heavy fire was coming out of the front of the house,” said Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief.
She said one or two of the occupants were taken to hospital for treatment after smoke inhalation, including one man who twice re-entered the burning house to try to save a dog.
“When it was safe to do so, we made an entry in and firefighters actually saved a dog that was missing, so kudos to them,” Fry said. “The ambulance crews gave it some therapy and from what I understand, it’s going to survive.”
She said the Uplands property was large enough that neighbouring homes weren’t at risk.
“During that fire, we actually got the second fire, so that made it a bit anxious for our staff,” she said. “Not too often do we ever have two structure fires at the same time.”
She said it may have impacted response time, and the entire coach house structure was burning when firefighters arrived. The building was close to fences and trees, but crews kept the fire from spreading.
The resident of the coach house made it out safely, though there was no working smoke alarm at the property.
“Working smoke alarms save lives and this guy … was pretty fortunate that something woke him up,” Fry said.
The chief had heard mixed messages as to whether the Uplands house had a working smoke alarm.
The causes of the fires will be under investigation. Fry said it’s known that the Uplands fire started outside the house, and said “it’s a really good time to remind people about extinguishing any kind of smoking material and not in potted plants.”
Emergency Social Services is assisting the Haliburton resident and the Uplands visitors.
Fry credited her team members for their efforts during what had already been a busy weekend.
“I’m very glad that everybody got out safely [yesterday] and our firefighters did a great job and then our dispatchers as well, of trying to manage both scenes,” she said.