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Family escapes North Vancouver house fire

Smoke detector alerts family members to blaze; fire crews contain damage

A North Vancouver family escaped unharmed from a house fire late Saturday thanks to an early warning from a smoke detector.

The victims were at home in the 500-block of East 20th Street just before midnight when the alarm alerted them to smoke in an upstairs room. A family member entered the child's bedroom - which was empty at the time - to find a dresser and other furniture in flames, according to firefighters. While the children were taken to safety, one of the parents tried to douse the blaze, they said. The flames were growing too quickly, however, and the family ultimately had to retreat outdoors to wait for help.

North Vancouver fire crews arrived to find the upper floor filling with smoke. A team rushed into the building and set to fighting the blaze, getting the flames under control in about half an hour.

"It wasn't that substantial, but the potential for it to become a big event was there," said City of North Vancouver deputy fire chief Dan Pistilli. The flames were contained to the bedroom, he said, but much of the upper floor suffered smoke and heat damage. Pistilli pegged the cost at about $40,000.

Things could have been much worse had it not been for the working smoke detector, he added.

Fire investigators were picking over the scene for much of Sunday. No cause has been released.