Seven people have been displaced after three homes in Rayleigh simultaneously burned Friday afternoon.
Emergency crews were called to the neighbourhood along the Yellowhead Highway just before 2:30 p.m. for a trio of house fires that sparked one after the other.
Firefighters responded initially to a home fully engulfed in flames at 4831 Aspen Park Dr. on the west side of Spurraway Drive. That fire quickly spread to a second house next door at 4843 Aspen Park Dr. and, within a half hour, firefighters were on their way to a third house in flames about two blocks away on Reighmount Drive — located on the east side of Spurraway.
All occupants of the homes were accounted for and no one sustained any injuries in the fires.
Rayleigh resident Jake St. Germain was in the backyard of his Reighmount Drive a few doors away from where the third fire sparked when he noticed smoke coming from Aspen Park Drive.
He said he ran over to see the first home and it’s carport up in flames, adding that he saw the gas tank and tires of a truck in the driveway explode.
“Then the neighbour’s house was starting to catch fire, too — roof to roof,” St. Germain said, noting about 40 people were watching from the street.
He said he ran into the yard of that second house to remove a dog from the property, having stepped up when he heard people hollering about the canine companion.
St. Germain said he then noticed smoke billowing from Reighmount Drive.
“I thought it was my house, so I just ran,” he said, noting the fire turned out to be a few doors away.
A KTW reporter on scene at the time said he could see smoke pouring out of a vent near the peak of the Reighmount Drive house. He said flames seemed to be building at the rear of the home on the upper floor. He also saw flames on the back deck of the home and noticed what appeared to be a length of one or more electrical extension cords draped on the upper deck.
Kamloops Fire Rescue appeared to have all three house fires extinguished by the late afternoon with many fire trucks and ambulances still on scene at about 5:30 p.m.
RCMP victim services was also on scene liaising with the displaced residents.
KFR Assistant Chief Robb Schoular said firefighters had arrived on scene to find the first home in flames that had already spread to the second, neighbouring home.
The back half of the first home was severely damaged by fire, while the second home’s attic and kitchen were damaged, he said.
About 25 minutes after arriving, KFR received word of the fire on nearby Reighmount and was able to dispatch an engine crew to fight that fire.
Schoular said it’s rare to have to fight two separate house fires at the same time.
St. Germain, who’s called Rayleigh home for about 15 years, said he’s never seen that many fires occur at once, adding he contemplated the notion that someone had gone around the neighbourhood and set them deliberately.
“It’s pretty nuts that two would happen within half an hour, it’s quite the coincidence,” he said. “Crazy day, quiet neighbourhood, you definitely don’t get this.”
Kamloops RCMP said it’s unclear if the two fires are related, and Schoular said the causes are undetermined at this time, noting investigators were just arriving on scene at about 5:30 p.m.
Five residents between the two homes on Aspen Park Drive — three in one home and two from another — have been displaced by the fire as were two people who lived at the home on Reighmount Drive, Schoular said.
St. Germain said an elderly couple reside at the Reighmount Drive home that caught fire.
“Super nice old couple,” St. Germain said.
Police said the occupants of that home were able to exit the structure and were not hurt.
While no humans were injured in the fires, one of three dogs between the residences remains unaccounted for, Schoular said.
Kamloops RCMP is asking anyone who may have more information on the Aspen Park fire to contact them at 250-828-3000.