A group of people stand on Lakeside Road watching firefighters douse flames coming from the rooftop of a residence. The neighbouring house initially caught fire and was completely destroyed, spreading the blaze to this home. Kristi Patton/Western News

UPDATE: 94-year-old woman still unaccounted for

Penticton Fire Department and RCMP investigating a fire that completely destroyed one home

(Files from the Western News’ Kristi Patton, in the field)

UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. Oct. 12

A 94-year old woman is still missing after a house fire destroyed one home and jumped to the neighbours house.

“The residents of one house were are able to get out safely. The 94-year-old resident of the second house remains unaccounted for,” said Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth. “Fire investigators are on scene with the police assisting with the investigation at this time.”

The B.C. Coroner told the Penticton Western News that they have not started an investigation into the matter.

UPDATE: 10:30 p.m.

A three alarm fire has completely destroyed a house at 3923 Lakeside Rd. and spread the flames to the neighbouring residence.

“We do have reports that we have a missing elderly lady that was reported inside the primary structure that was fully involved on our arrival. We have not confirmed that completely at this time. We will be completing a full investigation of this fire in co-ordination with the RCMP,” said Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

The full complement of the Penticton Fire Department battled the blaze that was called in at 6:15 p.m. Watkinson said the primary structure where the fire was started is completely destroyed. Strong winds and the close proximity between the residences caused challenges for the firefighters.

“… along with a lot of debris that was packed between the two homes. So with the wind fuelling that fire and pushing it onto the neighbouring house, it just lit up that first structure rapidly. There was literally no effort whatsoever to do any kind of interior fire tactics on that first primary home that caught fire,” said Watkinson.

The chief said with a quick response time of four minutes, the primary structure was already fully involved from top to bottom when they arrived on scene.

Debris from the fire was transporting 150 metres away so firefighters were scouting Skaha Lake marina and the neighbouring park to make sure spot fires did not start.

“As hard as it is to say we have lost two structures today, I believe that saving the marina and the park … if that wind would have picked up harder we could have literally had a block fire here. Or, if it had changed directions and moved down the lake we would have been scrambling to keep ahead of this fire,” said Watkinson.

UPDATE: 8:30 p.m.

An elderly woman is still missing after her home was destroyed in a fire Wednesday evening.

The fire collapsed the first home before spreading to a nearby house, destroying it as well.

Richard Ouellet is visiting from Calgary and was riding his bike along the beach when he first saw the blaze.

“It was small starting, but within minutes it was just engulfed. There was a big tree that went up in flames like crazy and that house burned down in seconds,” said Ouellet. “It was unbelievable how fast that thing went down.”

He said the winds spread the fire to the next home, which fire crews fought valiantly to save.

“They did an unreal job preventing it from fully igniting,” said Ouellet.

Like the neighbours below, Ouellet is worried about the woman who lived in the home that collapsed during the fire.

“This woman was frantic, she said her mother lived there and she was trying to find out if they got her out,” said Ouellet.

“If she was home, I doubt she had a chance to get out, it moved so fast. It burnt so quickly, the smoke was suffocating.”

At least two homes were destroyed in the blaze and the cause is currently unknown.

Firefighters on scene say they have not been able to locate the elderly homeowner.


UPDATE: 7:35 p.m.

At least two structures have been destroyed in a violent house fire Wednesday evening.

Sebastian Bade lives just three houses over from the blaze and saw the fire first spark at about 6:30 p.m.

“That was about 40 minutes ago and now it is completely burnt,” said Bade.

“We saw the big flames shooting out, we grabbed our pets, our belongings, our valuables and then hooked up a couple houses and sprayed the house, our roof and the roof next door. We are ready to go, just in case.”

He says an elderly woman in her mid-90s occupied the home where the fire started and neighbours are concerned for her well being.

“It is pretty scary, especially when you see the house next door is pretty much gone now too, that could have been ours.”

The elderly occupant of the initial home is still missing according to firefighters on scene.

More to come.


UPDATE: 7:15 p.m.

At least one home has reportedly been destroyed in the blaze.


ORIGINAL: 7 p.m.

Fire crews are battling a destructive blaze near Skaha Lake Marina Wednesday evening.

The fire is reportedly burning in two homes.

A large plume of smoke and a red glow can be seen from across the lake.

Lakeside Road is closed in both directions just after Brantford Avenue as crews fight the blaze.

The Western has a reporter on the way to the scene.

More to come.

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