Fire damaged three homes on Chatham Street this month. Photo: Nelson Fire and Rescue

Electrical problems suspected in trio of Nelson fires

Nelson Fire and Rescue says three fires this month were not connected, and are not suspicious

Nelson Fire and Rescue says three serious fires within a few days of each other this month are not connected and not considered suspicious. They all appear to have had electrical causes.

A fire that severely damaged a home at 308 Chatham St. on June 9 started on the lower level, with the cause “strongly suspected to be electrical,” fire chief Len MacCharles said in a news release.

A second fire on the same day in the Green Apartments at 556 Ward St. appears to have been the result of improper use of an electrical appliance.

Although the investigation into a third fire in a commercial building at 602 Josephine St. on June 11 isn’t finished, MacCharles says evidence points to faulty electrical equipment starting near the ground level of the second floor and travelling to the attic spaces undetected within a stucco encased wall near the centre of the building.

MacCharles said having three serious fires in relatively short order “can be alarming for some and leave many questions for others, so I thought it important to provide an update.”

Three homes damaged

The fire on Chatham Street also damaged two adjacent homes. One suffered exterior damage from radiant heat as well as interior smoke damage. The other was exposed to substantially more heat and fire, causing the exterior to ignite and the fire to spread to the attic.

Crews conducted an aggressive interior attack into the attic to confine the fire, MacCharles said. Crews had to open portions of the ceiling and walls to completely extinguish the fire and ensure it didn’t spread. All attempts were made to minimize smoke and water damage, he said.

Due to the extent of damage to the house where the fire started, an excavator was brought in to remove an unstable section and support another section while the investigation team worked.

Tenants and family members from two of the homes required temporary help with accommodation.

Pets rescued from Green Block

When crews arrived later that day at the apartment fire on Ward Street, they found smoke coming from an upper floor apartment. Fire was found in a bathroom, extending into the living room.

Police assisted with evacuations and fire crews were able to put the fire out and check other apartments to ensure the fire hadn’t spread. There was some smoke damage throughout the building but crews were able to extinguish the fire with little water damage.

During the fire, three pets were located safe by fire crews. Central Bark provided pet carriers to assist until the pets could be reunited with their owners.

Building had many additions

The commercial building fire was reported as burning in a ceiling fan in a bathroom. But when crews arrived, they discovered the fire had been burning in the ceiling and attic undetected for some time.

Crews opened the ceiling spaces from the interior in several locations, but due to years of numerous renovations and additions over the years, there were various roof structures, false ceilings and other construction that prevented firefighters from extinguishing the blaze.

The main portion of the building had a steep pitched roof originally built in 1899 as a house. It had undergone multiple renovations and alterations and in the 1990s, additions were placed on three sides of the house, creating various roof structures and ceiling spaces.

The fire was largely contained to the roof with little direct fire damage below. However, in order to extinguish the fire much water was used, resulting in water damage to the main floor and lower level businesses. Crews were able to work with the building owner and businesses to remove many belongings and materials.

“These were serious fires and we are all so fortunate there were no injuries or worse,” says MacCharles.

“I want to remind everyone about the importance of ensuring smoke alarms are installed in your home on every level and that they are tested regularly to ensure they are working properly. Smoke alarms save lives.”

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A fire in a commercial block at the corner of Josephine and Ward streets burned through the roof. Photo: Nelson Fire and Rescue

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