A resident of the Tournament Inn is crediting the smoke alarms in the Valleyview motel for saving his life and those of his fellow tenants.
"If we didn't have smoke alarms here, none of us would have made it out,” said Rob Fletcher, who was staying next door to a unit that caught fire just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning (March 2).
Fletcher said the sound of the smoke alarm in that unit woke him up and he he jumped out of bed to investigate.
Seeing flames next door, Fletcher said he immediately called 9-1-1, then kicked on his neighbour’s back door to make sure they were awake.
"They wouldn't have made it [out],” Fletcher said in his comments to Kamloops Fire Rescue and the City of Kamloops. “It went up so quick that by the time the fire department got here, the cars out front were already on fire."
About about 14 firefighters responded to extinguish the blaze.
One of the two occupants in the room tried to douse the blaze with a bucket of water, but the fire was too large at that point, so the pair made their escape.
Fire investigator Kevin Cassidy told KTW the probable cause of the fire was determined to be from an in-suite baseboard heater and couch placed to close to it. The fire has been deemed an accident.
By the time fire crews arrived, the flames had already engulfed the unit and advanced out the back and front doors, setting trees, a gazebo and two vehicles on fire.
Thanks to the alert from the smoke alarm and Fletcher's quick actions, no one was injured and many of the rooms had already been evacuated.
Fire crews quickly extinguished the blaze before any other units became involved, though there was some fire extension in two neighbouring units.
"The room involved had completely flashed over, meaning it was completely engulfed in fire. Those conditions would not have been survivable,” Cassidy said.
Chief Fire Prevention Officer Dean Olstad said the fire department has been working with the owners of the Tournament Inn over the last year to ensure all units are equipped with functioning smoke alarms.
"We know for certain that at least two Kamloops residents are alive today because their residence was equipped with functioning smoke alarms,” Olstad said.