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Family of five put out by West Vancouver house fire

Investigators are on the scene in the Altamont neighbourhood Monday, trying to find the cause.
Marine Drive fire paul McGrath web
A home on the 3000 block of Marine Drive in West Vancouver is left heavily damaged following a fire on Aug. 7, 2022.

A West Vancouver family of five is out of their home following a devastating house fire in Altamont, Sunday afternoon (Aug. 7).

A neighbour noticed smoke and flames coming from the house on Marine Drive at 31st Street,, and called 911 around 2:40 p.m.

“You could see the smoke from far away, as we're driving toward the scene,” said assistant chief Jeremy Duncan.

All five family members were out by the time crews arrived, although one injured their ankle getting out, Duncan said.

The nearest hydrant was across the road so West Vancouver police had to shut down Marine Drive and detour traffic to allow hoses to connect.

Crews trained their truck-mounted water canon on the flames, which eventually got the blaze extinguished but not before it spread throughout the home’s attic, dealing heavy damage.

“We were just chasing it all afternoon,” Duncan said.

Duncan said he’s grateful to the neighbours who used their own hose to douse the green space between the properties

“It was a great first precautionary move, but I don't think they were in risk of having any spread,” he said.

More importantly, their hose helped crew members cool down while fighting the fire, Duncan said. Five firefighters were treated by BC Ambulance Service paramedics at the scene for heat exhaustion and one was taken to hospital as a precaution. Duncan said he was later released.

“He's OK. He's back at work today,” he said. “It was so hot in that gear.”

It will be up to the homeowners’ insurance company to determine whether the structure can be salvaged but Duncan said it appears the damage is severe. The family is receiving emergency social services from North Shore Emergency Management in the meantime.

The fire underscores the need for having working smoke detectors throughout a home to give every possible moment of warning when a fire breaks out, Duncan said.

“One person was in a robe, so I think they had to get out pretty quickly,” he said. “I think it surprised them, too.”

Investigators are at the home Monday trying to determine the cause.

Outside the home, a vehicle was also fully engulfed in flames.

“We don't know if it started inside the house and then caught the car or vice versa,” he said.