A 69-year-old man is dead after a house fire engulfed a residence in the Annex. The BC Coroners Service identified the man as Aldo Scarpelli.
At 4:44 p.m. on Feb. 12, Fernie Fire Rescue responded to the report of a structure fire. The structure fire was a house on the corner of 8th avenue and 13th street. Upon emergency crews arrival the home was fully engulfed in flames.
Responding to the call was five units, comprised of 16 firefighters as well as additional emergency services.
“After the initial assessment it was determined that the home was beyond saving and our role would be to operate in a defensive mode,” said Fire Chief Ted Ruiter.
A defensive fire mode is determined when it is unsafe for crews to enter an occupancy.
“Fire crews focused their efforts on saving the adjacent home and were successful in doing so,” said Ruiter.
The adjacent home did suffer some damage due to its proximity to the blaze, however the extent of the damage was not specified and appeared to be minimal.
While authorities cannot confirm the cause of the fire, bystanders and witnesses say they heard an explosion outside of the residence. According to one witness, the explosion was so loud she thought two semi trucks had collided outside of her home.
Witnesses also reported seeing an unresponsive male in a covered walkway at the front of the home. The man’s dog was safely secured outside of the residence at the time of the fire and was not harmed.
The Fernie Fire Department was able to extinguish the blaze and worked into the evening to ensure it was safe for investigators. A RCMP Forensic team was able to examine the remains of the residence on Saturday morning. Investigators have ruled out foul play as being a factor in the fire and the man’s death.
The man’s remains were removed from the residence on Saturday and next of kin has been notified.
Due to the death of the occupant, Fernie Fire and Rescue is currently assisting the Coroner’s Office and the RCMP with the ongoing investigation.
A memorial for Aldo Scarpelli will be held on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Catholic Church in Fernie.