Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

Everyone has been accounted for and no injuries were reported after a suspected electrical fire forced the evacuation of staff and residents from Vernon’s Turning Points Collaborative Society’s (TPCS) emergency response centre in the 2500 block of 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18.

The fire broke out just before 5:30 p.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters reported seeing smoke from the exterior of the building and several people were standing outside. Firefighters found a small fire in the office portion of the building, away from clients’ quarters, and extinguished it quickly.

Everyone was evacuated from the facility and no injuries were reported during the incident.

Displaced individuals received assistance through the city’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) program.

TPCS said Monday, Oct. 19, some displaced clients have been able to move into vacant hotel and motel rooms through a preexisting arrangement with local business owners and support from BC Housing.

“The folks accessing the Emergency Response Centre rely on Turning Points’ services and programs for a sense. of safety and security,” said TPCS executive director Randene Wejr. “But, they are also fighters and I have no doubt that they will continue to be fighters through this difficult experience.”

“The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it does not appear to be suspicious,” said Vernon Fire Rescue Services Deputy Chief Scott Hemstad. “Thanks to the quick action of the staff on-site and the responding firefighters, damage to the building was contained to the interior and was minimized. The facility will remain inaccessible for a period of time.”

TPCS said it’s unclear when the doors will reopen as the damage is still being accessed.

“Turning Points Collaborative Society would like to highlight the incredible work done by our staff in preventing what could have been a potentially disastrous situation,” said the society in a release. “By taking quick and decisive action tonight, not only were our clients safely removed from harm’s way but also the damage to the ERC was kept to a minimum.

“The society would also like to extend its gratitude to Vernon Fire Rescue Services for its quick response. This is another example of the fine work they do to keep our community safe for everyone.”

TPC is actively working with BC Housing and Emergency Management BC to relocate guests into alternative accommodations. The City of Vernon said BC Housing and TPCS have requested assistance from the city to provide a temporary location for up to 86 evacuees.

The Creekside Conference Centre in the Vernon Recreation Complex has been set up as an evacuation centre with supplies from TPC and the City’s ESS program. TPCS staff and security are on-site.

At this time, there is no clear indication as to how long the ERC services will be suspended.

“Our staff and community partners will be working around the clock to help our clients affected by this unfortunate and unforeseeable event,” said the society.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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