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Blaze destroys two homes, prompts investigation into 9-1-1 delays

A structure fire on Yew Street this morning has destroyed two homes, one vehicle and many possessions, including a quad, according to Castlegar Fire Chief Sam Lattanzio.

He said the call came in at roughly 11 a.m., while crews were responding to a report of a grass fire adjacent to Fairview along Hwy 22.

No one was injured, but it is believed a pet, a bearded dragon, perished in the blaze. 

In an interview at roughly 6 p.m., Lattanzio said he was turning the properties over to respective representatives (homeowners, insurance companies and RCMP), while crews 

headed back to  the Fire Hall for a massive clean-up job after a very long and trying day.

"Unfortunately, the two properties are a complete loss," he said. "Our firefighters did a great job, no one was injured."

This, despite significant crowds drawn by the massive clouds of billowing, black smoke, which could be easily seen as far away as Celgar.

The cause of the fire appears to be suspicious and is currently under investigation.

Meanwhile, several residents expressed frustration on social media that calls to 9-1-1 were repeatedly transferred and rerouted, some of them taking 20 minutes or more until they could speak to a dispatcher who was able to correctly assist them in informing fire crews of the conflagration.

The Source contacted an e-comm (9-1-1) non-emergency line, and was assured by e-comm Director of Corporate Communications Jasmine Bradley that the company would investigate the matter, asking for the phone numbers from which people had called so as to better pinpoint and assess the situation.

Anyone who called 9-1-1 and experienced delays can contact The Source on Facebook or at khoggan@telus.net, and their number will be forwarded.

A response isn't anticipated until early next week.