Columbia Valley Pioneer staff 

Firefighting operations had to be halted today during a structure fire near Fairmont when a homeowner entered the burning building, according to a news release.

Firefighters were called  to the scene of a two-storey home in Columere Park just before 10 a.m. after a neighbour saw smoke and called 9-1-1.

“We responded immediately and, with the help of the aerial truck, worked hard to keep the fire confined to the one structure,” explained Columbia Valley Rural Fire & Rescue Service Chief Drew Sinclair.

The homeowners were not home at the time the fire broke out but were notified and subsequently returned to the property. Against the direction of firefighters, one of the homeowners entered the home, Sinclair said.

“Immediately we had to halt our firefighting actions and firefighters had to enter the burning structure to search for and retrieve the homeowner,” he pointed out. “While it is extremely distressing to see your home or property on fire, it is critical that people stay out of burning buildings and adhere to the instructions of the emergency responders.  No piece of personal property is worth your safety, or worse, your life,” Sinclair stated.

Sixteen firefighters from the Fairmont and Windermere Fire Departments responded, along with five pieces of apparatus.  RCMP, Emergency Health Services and BC Hydro were also on site.  Emergency Support Services is engaged and offering support to the family.

Firefighters remain on scene this afternoon and will continue to stay on site until any hot spots have been fully cooled.  The structure sustained significant damage and the cause remains under investigation, but is not suspected to be suspicious in nature.

Residents in the area are asked to stay back from the scene to avoid traffic congestion and allow firefighters and emergency services personnel to complete their work.

A homeowner reportedly entered the burning building against the directions of firefighters.
(Photo submitted)