Phone confusion may have stalled fire rescue
Authorities say residents of a Vernon, B.C., mobile home park that was devastated by fire on Friday may have stalled their own rescue by dialing the wrong number for help.
The fire broke out on Friday afternoon in Okanagan Indian Band territory, destroying three homes and severely damaging a fourth. Residents called 911, but help didn't arrive for almost half an hour.
Chief David Lawrence of the band's volunteer fire department says the delay may have been due to confusion over the proper emergency number to call.
The area is not part of the regional 911 service, Lawrence said, and residents are instead advised to call the department directly at 250-545-4111.
"The number for our fire department is posted probably 100 yards before the turn-off for that trailer park: ‘For fire emergencies, call this number,'" Lawrence said.
But few of the park residents who spoke to CTV News were aware of the distinction. "The first I heard about it was yesterday," Ivan Joly said. "Doesn't seem like anybody around here knew."
Resident Chelsey Larrivee said she had seen the number, but could not remember it.
The amount of rescue time lost is unclear, but Lawrence says the band is working to avoid future confusion by extending 911 coverage to the area.
The affected homes were evacuated safely, and no one was injured in the fire. Investigators are expected to arrive at the scene on Monday to determine the cause.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat