Tragedy should impress us to make our homes safe from fires

By on January 22, 2014

A tragic house fire in Osoyoos this past Friday morning claimed the life of a local woman and left her partner with severe burns.

The fire was horrendous. As Osoyoos Fire Chief Rick Jones points out, it has been many years since a house fire has taken a life in Osoyoos.

In this case, the man helped the woman escape the house, but she was badly burned and the following day she succumbed to her injuries at a burn unit in a Vancouver hospital.

For those who are lucky enough never to have witnessed a house fire close hand, it would probably come as a surprise to see the speed that a house burns once the fire takes off. There is very little time to get out.

You would also be surprised and impressed by the speed in which emergency responders react. In a matter of a few minutes, the first firefighters and an RCMP officer arrived at the scene.

Osoyoos, like many other smaller communities, relies on an all-volunteer fire department. Its members must leave other jobs, mobilize the trucks and arrive at the scene.

It is impressive to watch them move the hoses into position, contain the flames and cover neighbouring houses with foam to prevent the fire from spreading.

Just as fast as the fire flared up, the fire crew had it under control, even though it took much longer to ensure that all the hot spots were extinguished. These firefighters are highly professional in the job they do, even though they are volunteers. Osoyoos is lucky to have them and we owe them our gratitude.

With the local ambulance crew away on another call, it took longer than was ideal for another crew to reach the scene, but the time was actually shorter than it seemed.

Crews with two ambulances performed their difficult jobs as true professionals.

Not all the details are known about the circumstances and what happened, but clearly this has been devastating for the families of those involved.

We are confident that Osoyoosites, when they see the scope of this tragedy, will do all they can to help. We hope this sad incident will serve as a reminder to others in the community about the devastating power of fire.

Hopefully the story and photos will impress upon local residents the need to take precautions to protect their own homes from the risk of fire. Too many homes lack fire extinguishers. In too many homes, smoke detectors are not functional due to exhausted batteries or even batteries that have been removed.

Too many people carelessly smoke indoors. Too many have unsafe wiring. Too many people engage in unsafe cooking practices.

Before this tragedy fades from memory, give your home a thorough fire-proofing inspection.

Of course we should praise the excellent job done by the first responders. And we should do what we can as a community to help those whose lives were so badly affected by this fire. But the biggest tragedy of all would be if we fail to respond by making our own homes safer from the risk of another devastating fire.




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