Crews have started to clean up the aftermath of a Sidney fire that has left a family of three with an uncertain future (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Crews have started to clean up the aftermath of a Sidney fire that has left a family of three with an uncertain future (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Fire official describes Sidney fire as ‘accidental’

Mike Harman, deputy chief, says cause of fire may be available by Tuesday

An official with the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department says the fire that damaged a Sidney house Saturday afternoon remains under investigation, but is currently “deemed to be accidental.”

Mike Harman, deputy chief, made that observation less than 24 hours after members of three area departments responded to the fire on Beacon Avenue West near the Victoria International Airport. Bob and Janine Taverner were living in the home as renters with their five-year-old daughter Georgia. All three escaped without any injuries, but the fire caused extensive damage to the modest bungalow.

Harman said the man was working in the garage, then left to do an errand, with the wife and child remaining in the home.

“They noticed out the front window smoke and fire,” he said. “They grabbed the family dog, they exited the structure [and] called 911.” When asked about the nature of the work, Harman did not give specifics.

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula rallies around Sidney family with young daughter after fire

“He [the man] said he was just working in his garage,” said Harman. When asked about any possible link between the work in the garage and the fire, Harman said “that part is under investigation.”

Harman added that the department might have an answer about the cause of the fire by Tuesday.

Harman could confirm that the woman heard what one account has described as “a loud bang in the garage” before seeing fire and smoke. “It actually sounded as if a tree had fallen on the house is what she said to me,” said Harman.

The family has received support through the Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO). “The emergency social services team has looked after the family for 72 hours,” he said. ‘They provided accommodations, meal vouchers, and we have always looked after getting them some additional clothing and things like that.”

Not one, but two fundraising campaigns are also currently underway to help the family, which moved to Sidney in early August according to the Facebook account of Janine Taverner, whom friends describe as a stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur, who runs her business, Rustic Tavern Illustrations. Bob Taverner works as a truck driver.

According to one of the fundraising campaigns, the fire caused extensive damage to the home, but Harman could not provide a dollar estimate at this stage.

Harman said crews responded to the fire just after 4 p.m. Saturday. About 30 firefighters from three departments — Sidney, North Saanich, and Central Saanich — responded to the incident, either on-site or supplying back up coverage. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, Central Saanich Police, and British Columbia Ambulance Service also responded.

“We had trucks on-site pretty quick [and] we had the main body of the fire knocked down in about 20 minutes or so,” said Harman, who praised the family’s response to the fire.

“This family knew what to do when they encountered a fire,” he said. “They grabbed themselves, they didn’t grab belongings, they existed the structure, they went to their meeting point, which for them was out on the street, and called 911 right away,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

According to Statistics Canada, new housing starts and value of building permits in Greater Victoria rose in January 2021 compared to January 2020. (Black Press Media File)
New housing starts, value of building permits up in Greater Victoria

Cost of new housing also rising in region, now in excess of $1.15 million for a new detached home

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read