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‘It can quickly get out of control’: Vigilance urged when cooking food in summer heat

Firefighters still working to put out condo fire nearly 24 hours later in Surrey

After a fire that displaced about 80 people, B.C. residents are being reminded to be vigilant when cooking, especially in the summer heat.

From the scene of a condominium fire in the Lower Mainland Wednesday (Aug. 4), Shelley Morris, Surrey’s assistant fire chief, said heat “definitely plays a factor.” Morris added anything that ignites “can then flare up quite quickly.”

“It’s always being vigilant and never leaving anything that you’re cooking, whether it be a barbecue or inside, unattended because if anything was to happen, it can quickly get out of control.

“It’s just staying present when you’re dealing with any heating source.”

While some social media comments point to a barbecue being the possible cause of the fire in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood, crews have yet to determine the cause and Morris said there will be an investigation.

“It’s an unfortunate situation to have people like this displaced, but hopefully it brings some awareness that people do need to stay vigilant with whatever they’re doing and hopefully things like this won’t happen in the future.”

She estimates about 80 people have been displaced and at least 20 units have been damaged following a fire at a Surrey condominium complex Tuesday evening.

The call for the fire at the three-storey woodframe Canterbury Green building at 70th Avenue and 138th Street came in around 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3, with two units initially on fire when crews arrived.Residents quickly evacuated, while crowds formed as firefighters worked to put out the flames.

On Tuesday evening, Surrey Fire Service deputy chief Mark Griffioen said the fire had moved onto the roof of the building.

“We’re trying to stop it from spreading across.”

Firefighters could been be seen on the complex’s roof as they battled the fire with some on the ladder attacking the fire over a wooded area.

Morris said Wednesday afternoon that firefighters were still working to put out some hotspots.

“We did work on it all night long. We did exterior attacks and interior attacks to try and get out the hotspots and sparks but there are some access issues,” she noted.

“It never did fully go out, so we’ve been sort of trying to hold it at bay, which we have done. But that’s as far as we’ve really gotten. But now we’re starting to get a bit of headway on this, and we just have some small hotspots left.”

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Surrey firefighters battle a blaze at a Newton condo complex Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)