(4th July till 4:00 PM)
Vernon Fire Rescue Services remains at the scene after a large structure fire broke out in Downtown Vernon. Heavy equipment was brought in to demolish the walls of the building to allow firefighters better access inside and attack hot spots.
The demolition of the building is expected to be completed by 8:00 pm today, and then the site will be secured by fencing.
Due to ongoing work in the area, 30th Street between 28th and 30th Avenue will be closed overnight and will reopen tomorrow morning. However, 29th Avenue is expected to be open by late this evening.
Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) thanks everyone for their patience and understanding until this emergency response task is completed. In particular, VFRS thanks the Armstrong Spallmachine Fire Department for providing additional equipment and personnel to assist in the firefighting efforts, as well as all other responding agencies providing service throughout the day.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP, so no further updates will be provided by VFRS.
(by July 4 at 9:00 am)
Vernon firefighters are at the scene of a large structure fire in downtown Vernon this morning (Tuesday). The fire was first reported at approximately 2:30 a.m. in the 2800-block of 30th Street.
The scene has been clarified and additional details have become available.
The following roads are closed to traffic and pedestrians (see map below):
- 30th Street between 28th and 30th Avenues
- 29th Street between 28th and 30th Avenues
- 28th Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets
Please avoid the downtown core and find alternate travel routes if necessary.
fire response update
Crews have confirmed that the fire involved only one structure with multiple units (each a separate business). Crews have brought the fire under control and prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings. Kekuli Center Apartments have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.
“The roof of the building that was on fire has collapsed, making it difficult for firefighters to attack the interior of the building,” said Deputy Fire Chief Alan Hofsink. “Heavy equipment is now being brought to the site to assist in bringing down the walls. This will allow the crew to have better access to the interiors so that they can attack the hot spots. Crews will remain at the scene for several hours.”
City utility crews attended the scene to clear storm drains of debris and BC Hydro is helping to restore power to nearby buildings that lost power a few hours ago.
“At this time, there are no reports of injuries. The fire is suspected to be arson and the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is leading the investigation,” Hoffsink said.
air quality concerns
Due to the size and scope of the fire, heavy smoke enveloped a large portion of the community. Residents may see smoke entering their homes or businesses. If this is the case, you are encouraged to turn off air conditioning units and close all windows until the smoke has cleared from the area.
Vernon Fire Rescue Services would like to thank all the agencies and organizations who assisted in the response this morning. Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated.