Cawston man killed in house fire

Body found in rubble of Sunday blaze - victim not yet identified

  • Jan. 23, 2017 8:00 a.m.

TARA BOWIE

A Cawston man was found dead in the rubble of a home that burned in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The man’s identity was not being released by police Monday afternoon as next of kin had not yet been notified.

“I can confirm that (someone was found dead). He was the only person found in the home,” RCMP Const. Matthew Groen told Black Press Monday.

The man’s remains have been removed and the BC Coroners Service is working to confirm identity.

“The coroner received a call about 6 a.m. from the RCMP that there had been a structure fire in Cawston and after it was extinguished it was found there was a deceased person in there,” Barbara McLintock of the BC Coroners Service said.

It took Keremeos firefighters 11 hours to put out the fire.

Jordy Bosscha, fire chief for the Keremeos Volunteer fire department said the home was full involved by the time the first truck arrived around 4 a.m. on January 21.

Bosscha said he must refer any questions about the deceased man to the RCMP but said the tragedy has affected the crew.

“It’s hard for sure,” he said.

It’s been about a year since Keremeos firefighters have been able to do interior attacks on homes because of new provincial guidelines outlined in the fire fighting playbook.

Bosscha said even if his crew met provincial standards for interior training the home was too engulfed to try an interior attack.

“It was a defensive attack right from the get go. There was absolutely no chance to get into that house,” he said.

The blaze presented several challenges to the 10-person crew that fought the fire from the Keremeos department. The crew was backed up through mutual aid from the Osoyoos department who sent an additional five firefighters.

Firefighting efforts were hampered when a wall collapsed onto a natural gas line, breaking it and forcing all crews had to vacate the site until a specialized crew from FortisBC in Kelowna arrived to clamp off the underground steel gas pipes.

Bosscha said it took five hours for someone from Kelowna to arrive.

With the gas main closed off, crews returned to the site and, with the assistance of a local contractor and excavator, were able to tear apart the remnants of the building and extinguish the fire.

Bosscha said the cause of the fire is not known and will not be known as the structure had to be torn down to put it out completely.