The blaze that destroyed a house on Daniel Drive Tuesday has area residents asking whether full-time firefighters are needed to fight fires in Promontory Heights.
“We pay a lot of taxes in Chilliwack, and we seem to have more houses burning,” said Daniel Drive resident Ian Moskaluk.
“We’re very fortunate we have a guy who lives around the corner who is a paid fireman in Abbotsford who had a hose and a wrench in his truck,” Moskaluk said.
He said the neighbour had water on the fire 20 minutes before firefighters from the fire hall in Sardis arrived.
“They do a great job and everything,” Moskaluk said about the Chilliwack firefighters, “but if it wasn’t for that guy with a hose and wrench … it could have been a lot worse.”
Fire Chief Rick Ryall said Chilliwack does have full-time firefighters, 24 of them, along with paid-on-call volunteers.
And it was the full-time firefighters who arrived first at the Daniel Drive fire – 10 minutes after the call.
“I can’t dispute that if the full-time guys were twiddling their thumbs at Fire Hall 4 the response time would have been faster,” he said.
But one fire truck was at the Cottonwood Mall doing an inspection, and the second was in downtown Chilliwack.
It was rush-hour traffic that slowed down the response time, Ryall said.
“If the fire had happened at 2 a.m. on a weekday, I can guarantee the response time would have been four minutes,” he said.
Neither full-time firefighters nor a firehall in Promontory is being talked about at the Promontory Residents Association, said chairperson Ken Newton.
“We’re moving toward a community response team,” he said, and working with Chilliwack fire officials to develop who and what should make up the team.
“We’ll be having a meeting with them in the early fall,” he said.
The cause of the Tuesday fire appears to be accidental, but some Daniel Drive residents contacted by The Progress suspect the two-storey house was being used for illegal drug trafficking.
Two men who reportedly fled from the house when the fire erupted at about 5 p.m. were arrested by police but later released without any charges.