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An open letter from Cranbrook Fire Chief

Cranbrook Fire Chief writes open letter to community following Monday's fire in Park Royal Neighbourhood
park-royal-fire
Two houses caught fire in the Park Royal neighbourhood of Cranbrook, Monday, July 8. (Trevor Crawley photo)

Following the City’s response to a house fire in the Park Royal Neighbourhood on Monday, July 8, 2024, the Fire Chief and Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services, Scott Driver, has written an open letter to the community regarding the fire.

Yesterday was a profoundly challenging day for three families in our community. A structure fire broke out in the Park Royal Neighbourhood early in the afternoon on Monday, July 8, quickly spreading to a neighbouring property. Upon arrival, our team was met with a fully involved fire in a residential home, which had spread to an adjacent home. Our teams acted swiftly to set up water streams while all additional staff were paged out from home. The RCMP helped to ensure that all occupants were safe and accounted for.

With the summer heat and southerly winds, there was a palpable risk of the fire spreading further into the neighbourhood and the nearby forest. We are grateful that our initial strategy of focusing master streams at the involved structures and adjacent vegetation was successful in containing the fire to the two burning structures. With the potential for afternoon winds, the very real threat of an evacuation of the neighbourhood was on everyone’s mind, including ours.

The fire investigation will proceed in the coming days. There are significant challenges associated with collapse of one of the structures, and the investigation will have to be closely coordinated with the building’s demolition in order to proceed in a manner that is safe for our staff.

I cannot commend enough the dedicated members of Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services. With high summer temperatures and significant heat from the fire, they endured significant challenges with the conditions and performed valiantly. Despite being a small team, their unwavering commitment and professionalism are inspiring, and this incident exemplifies the quality of staff we have protecting our community. I am immensely proud of the service we are able to deliver to our community and cannot speak highly enough of the team that I have the honor of serving alongside.

In addition, our emergency response partners were instrumental in managing this crisis. The RCMP played a crucial role in facilitating our operations, ensuring the safety of affected residents, and managing the scene to allow us to focus on firefighting. Their service and professionalism were indispensable to the favorable outcome we achieved yesterday.

I am deeply grateful to our partners at the BC Wildfire Service, particularly the Cranbrook Zone Office and Southeast Fire Center team, whose support was crucial in monitoring the fire's potential spread into forested areas. This teamwork approach continues to prove its effectiveness in a multitude of ways, and its value to the greater public cannot be overstated.

The BC Ambulance Service provided invaluable support to ensure the well-being of residents and firefighters on the scene. Although fortunate that there were no injuries, their readiness and dedication is always reassuring. I must thank the Regional Emergency Management Program out of the RDEK, and our utilities and support staff with the City, who continue to find ways of helping out wherever its needed.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge our community members. The outpouring of support and solidarity shown by neighbours offering comfort to those affected exemplifies the true spirit of our community. Please know that your compassion for each other is noticed and valued.

Thank you to everyone who played a role in yesterday's response. Your selflessness and collaboration made a significant difference in mitigating what could have been a much greater tragedy.

Sincerely,

Fire Chief Scott Driver

Director, Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services