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Kengard Manor fire extinguished, but structure now a concern
Parts of the building continue to smoulder, but as the sun rose on Friday, Merritt’s fire chief confirmed that the fire at the Kengard Manor apartments had been extinguished.
“The fire is deemed extinguished. There is still the odd little hot spot that crews are remaining on scene to manage — and to provide security. There is definitely structural integrity issues, and we don’t want the public around just due to the danger,” said Dave Tomkinson, fire chief for the City of Merritt.
Crews spent the better part of Thursday battling a blaze that — to onlookers — only seemed to grow in intensity as the day wore on. Power was eventually cut to the nearby Sandpiper apartments on Merritt Avenue in the afternoon, while firefighters cut away parts of the building’s roof to try and quench the fire which had spread through all three floors.
“It was well under control late in the evening,” said Tomkinson. “There were some stubborn areas in the roof assembly that we couldn’t access due to the fact that the roof on the north wing is no longer there.”
Around 2 p.m., before flames were visible on the exterior of the building, firefighters were using saws to cut holes in the roof — an aggressive step Tomkinson said was essential to sequestering the fire away from the south wing of the building.
“The real key was that we had our crews on the roof. And they were cutting trench ventilation holes, which prevented the fire from spreading into the south wing,” said Tomkinson.
He added that while the south wing suffered no fire damage, there was significant smoke and water damage to that section of the building.
“The north wing definitely has been compromised,” said Tomkinson. “We have a wall that’s bowing out a bit — that’s why we want the public to stay away. There is that potential of that exterior wall coming down and causing injury if they are in that vicinity.”
With the scene now under control, Merritt Fire Rescue will now switch gears to start the investigation to determine what caused the fire.
“That hasn’t been our focus until today. It’ll start with interviewing witnesses and things like that. Quite likely we’re going to be working alongside the insurance companies and things like that. We’re just kind of bringing that all together today, and of course we’ll be investigating in the days ahead,” said Tomkinson. “At this point in time, there is no indication that it is suspicious, but we just have to get the facts.”