Five people were sent to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation after a unattended pot in a kitchen caught fire on the Tseycum First Nation reserve Wednesday afternoon.
At around 4:50 p.m., North Saanich firefighters, RCMP and ambulance personnel were called to a house on the reserve, reportedly on fire. When firefighters arrived, says fire Chief Gary Wilton, they saw neighbours in something of a bucket brigade, trying to extinguish the fire.
Wilton said a passing youth saw smokeg coming from the second floor of the house at the corner of Totem Lane and Sunbird Crescent. They knocked on the door of a neighbour, who rushed over to the house at the same time as a couple other people. They found one man emerging from the smoke, dazed, and helped him get away. They learned another man was still inside. Wilton said they found the second man coming out of another room and quickly got him outside as well. Three neighbours and the two residents were sent to hospital for treatment and were discharged later that night.
Sidney North Saanich RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Erin Fraser said there were no other serious injuries in the incident, which stemmed from a pan with oil left on the stove.
Wilton said firefighters quickly knocked down the fire, which was contained within the kitchen. The rest of the house was hit with extensive smoke and heat damage. The kitchen itself was gutted, he said, and the rest of the house left unlivable.
He added one of the two men in the house was sleeping at the time of the fire; the other was using a computer and was distracted. There were no working smoke detectors in the house Wilton added. The band, he noted, has been in the process of installing new detectors in the houses they own but had not yet done so in this case. The house, Wilton said, is believed to be insured.
This is the sixth kitchen fire this year in North Saanich, Wilton said. Prior to this latest incident, he said another fire in a different part of North Saanich earlier this month was extinguished quickly thanks to an alert from a smoke detector. In that case, a resident had turned the stove on, then left the residence, forgetting about a pan on the burner.
“Six similar cases in one year is too many,” agreed Wilton, adding he plans on issuing a reminder through the municipality, about kitchen safety and having working smoke detectors.
He added it’s important that people don’t forget about what they have cooking on the stove.