It took all three of North Shore’s fire departments plus a Vancouver fireboat to knock down a fire that dealt heavy damage to two West Vancouver waterfront mansions and threatened to spread.
West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members arrived on the 2600-block of Bellevue Avenue around 4:15 a.m. Monday to find one home fully involved and flames spreading next door.
The fire grew quickly after it got into the empty space beneath the flat roof of the first home.
“Basically, it was running around in the roof and it was very, very difficult…for our firefighters to access,” said assistant fire chief Jeff Bush.
Crews from the three departments worked overnight rotating in shifts due to the extreme heat to get the fire doused from the buildings and trees. It took more than 12 hours before the fire chiefs could declare the blaze extinguished.
“It was a long day,” Bush said. “We were really concerned about the third house to the west catching fire and the crews did an amazing job of saving that. It’s completely in tact — completely untouched.”
Bush said the fireboat, which North Shore municipalities can call on subject to funding approval, was instrumental in saving the third home. “They dumped a lot of seawater,” he said.
Had the fire happened during low tide, the boat would have been out of range of the burning buildings, Bush said.
Both buildings suffered heavy damage and it was unclear whether they could be salvaged.
Two residents from the first home were treated for smoke inhalation. The owners of the second home were out of town when the fire broke out.
Investigators are treating the fire as suspicious. Fire prevention officers and West Vancouver police were on scene on Tuesday working to rule out accidental and natural causes for the fire. West Vancouver police issued a news release on Monday saying the fire was possibly caused by arson. Investigators found a gas can near the scene.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious around the time of the fire — including filling a gas can — is asked to contact West Vancouver police at 604-985-7300.