Quick action by three men saves house from freak fire

By on May 21, 2014

A freak fire last week at a house overlooking the Osoyoos Golf Club could have been catastrophic if not for the quick action of three local house builders.

The fire is believed to have started by spontaneous combustion in a plastic plant pot on the upper porch at the Pebble Beach Drive home of Brian Rothwell and his wife Christine.

“My wife was on the 11th fairway of the (Park) Meadows and somebody said, ‘I think your house is on fire,’” said Rothwell, recalling the events of the morning of May 14. “She turned and sure enough.”

Three men who were working at two different houses below saw the smoke and flames and ran up to offer assistance.

Ken Anderson, John Lewis and Dean Pendergraft got there in the nick of time, just as flames were starting to climb the wall.

“I was going to the dump and I just looked up at that deck and thought Jesus, there’s some black smoke up there, so I went and checked it out,” Anderson recalls.

First he checked to see if anyone was in the house. Then the men managed to find a hose on the lower level, which they used to cool the flames. They also borrowed a ladder from a neighbour across the street.

“We grabbed the hose from the lower deck and just shot a bunch of water up there,” said Anderson. “We got the ladder so we could get up on the (upper) deck and get the whole fire out. We ended up getting it out before the fire department got there.”

The flames, he said, were very high and were reaching up to the eaves troughs. Had they not arrived when they did, the whole house would have gone up in flames, Anderson believes.

Rothwell said his wife grabbed a golf cart and headed home to find the three men dousing the flames.

There was minor damage to some siding, a window and part of the deck.

Rothwell himself was golfing on the Desert Gold course and wasn’t aware of the fire until afterwards.

He was told by fire officials that most likely some peat moss in the planters spontaneously combusted in the hot sun, even though there was water in the bottoms.

Rothwell calls the three men “heroes,” saying they deserve that label for saving his house, even though no lives were endangered.

“Without the immediate and unselfish reaction by the three gentlemen, we might have lost our home,” said Rothwell. “No doubt about it, without them, we may not have had a house to come home to after golfing.”


Osoyoos Times



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