Sparwood mayor thanks responders

Apartment fire prompts outpouring of support from community, however, help is still needed.

The mayor of Sparwood has thanked those involved in the response to a fatal apartment fire that has devastated the community.

The blaze broke out in Sparwood Heights about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, consuming Building B of Ponderosa Manor on Ponderosa Drive and prompting the evacuation of 96 units, 24 of which are a total loss.

One man tragically died in the fire after succumbing to smoke and heat while trying to flee his apartment.

Firefighters worked quickly to bring the blaze under control and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent apartment blocks.

They have been thanked by Sparwood mayor Cal McDougall.

“Our firefighters train week in and week out to respond to calls, and their professionalism and skill was evident last night,” he said in a press release issued late Friday.

“We are so grateful to all the members who responded and worked so hard to contain the blaze to one building. They did an incredible job under very trying circumstances.”

Word of the fire spread on social media with many offering their homes to displaced families.

McDougall said he was blown away by the “tremendous outpouring of support” from the community.

“Our community is going to need to continue to pull together to help those affected and I am so proud of the way everyone is rallying to support our residents in need,” he said.

McDougall also extended the District’s appreciation to Elkford Fire and Emergency Services, which contributed a truck and five firefighters to the response, along with Interior Health, the City of Fernie, Regional District of East Kootenay and Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers from Elkford.

“This is a small town with big heart,” he said.

“I want those who jumped into action last night and those who are continuing to offer their support to know how much their efforts are appreciated.

“And, for those who have been directly impacted by this tragedy, we will continue to support you through this difficult time.”

Help still needed

Short-term housing is still needed for residents displaced by the Ponderosa Manor fire.

Anyone who may be able to billet families or has an RV they would be willing to let affected residents use is asked to email details to sparwood@sparwood.ca.

“We have zero housing capacity in Sparwood and while we are working to identify some options, we are appealing to the community for help in the immediate short term,” said District of Sparwood Chief Administrative Officer Terry Melcer on Friday.

The ESS team is also in need of volunteers to help with support services.

Training is provided and anyone interested in assisting as an ESS volunteer can contact the ESS Director Joyce Kutzner at 250-425-4752.

The District is accepting donations of clothing and gift cards; however, cannot accept any homemade meals, furniture or larger items at this time.

Details on how to donate and what is being accepted are available on the District’s website.

Displaced families asked to register

Anyone displaced by the fire has been asked to register at the ESS Reception Centre, which is located at the Sparwood Recreation and Leisure Centre and open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice.

“We are asking anyone from A, B, C or D buildings in Ponderosa Manor to register at the Leisure Centre,” said ESS Director Joyce Kutzner.

“Even if you are staying with friends or family, it’s important to register so that everyone is accounted for; that we can make sure everyone is aware of the support mechanisms available to them; and, so we have contact information to be able to provide ongoing communication moving forward.”

On Friday, an evacuation order remained in effect for 96 units in the four buildings, however, local authorities were working to restore power and access to buildings A, C and D as quickly as possible.

The 24 units in B building are a total loss.

 

The 24 units in building B of Ponderosa Manor apartments in Sparwood Heights were a total loss. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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