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Fire guts house on Osoyoos East Bench
As a strong breeze fanned the flames, fire gutted a two-story house on 33rd St. on the Osoyoos East Bench last Wednesday evening.
Firefighters battled the blaze throughout the evening, successfully preventing its spread to nearby properties.
There were no injuries.
The house was owned by Michael and Linda McWhinnie.
Michael McWhinnie is a retired school teacher who was recently pled guilty to a charge of theft over $5,000 involving more than $40,000 misappropriated from the Osoyoos Rural Fire Protection District.
The cause of the fire is unknown and is still under investigation.
The wood-structured house at 3812 33 Street was completely gutted, but Osoyoos firefighters managed to contain the blaze and keep it from spreading.
“My main objective was to make sure it didn’t spread to other homes,” said Osoyoos Fire Chief Rick Jones, noting that winds were getting stronger into the evening.
“The guys used the compressed air foam system and coated the trees and cars so we had very little collateral damage.”
The fire call was received about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, but firefighters remained at the scene throughout the night preventing the blaze from spreading.
The fire was seen to flare up again on Thursday morning, but Jones explained there were still burning sections of floor and roof, which couldn’t be accessed during the night.
In the morning, heavy equipment was brought in to move small sections of debris, allowing firefighters to extinguish what remained.
As winds caused the fire to flare up Wednesday evening, firefighters hosed down the blaze from a backyard rose garden and from the street.
Jones said a tender truck and two other trucks had to rotate in and out bringing water to be pumped onto the blaze.
The fire was the third call that day Osoyoos firefighters had to deal with.
They also were called to a grass fire as well as to Nk’Mip Campground, where a man was impaled on a spike.
In the campground incident, which was unrelated to either fire, Jones said a man tripped and fell and impaled himself on the spike, which went through his head. The man was not killed.
“The spike went in his forehead and came out underneath his eye,” said Jones. “We couldn’t lift him up because you didn’t know where the spike was. We ended up excavating the girth underneath him. It was a 12-inch spike and half was sticking out his head.”
(Photos by Richard McGuire)