Fire at Sooke elementary school

Two fatalities in East Sooke house fire

Fires keep regional fire departments busy over past week

Two elderly people perished in a house fire in the early morning hours of November 1.

The couple, who had immigrated to Canada 20 years ago to be closer to their grandchildren, were Leonard and Brenda Grundy, 85 and 83 years old respectively. They had been married for 65 years.

Members of the Sooke RCMP responded  to a call of fatalities from the house fire on Copper Mine Road.

The call came into the East Sooke Volunteer Fire Department around 4 a.m. from a woman driving by who saw flames coming through the roof at 1355 Copper Mine Road. The fire department responded very quickly after the call but it was too late as the home was engulfed.

RCMP say there is no evidence of foul play. Sooke detachment members are continuing to investigate and assist the BC Coroner and the BC Fire Commissioner.

The early morning fire brought out fire departments from East Sooke and Sooke, with about 30 volunteer firefighters battling the blaze. The fire is thought to have started in the living room. It is believed that the couple was unable to escape the blaze due to the location of their bedroom and the hallway.

The couple’s son, Steve Grundy, had stated that his father was a retired draftsman and his mother worked for a real estate company, then for local government before coming to East Sooke.

The fire department recommends people check the batteries in their fire and smoke alarms by pressing the test button. Changing the batteries is a good precaution.

Two days earlier, on October 29, the Sooke Fire Department, along with the Otter Point and Metchosin fire departments attended an electrical fire at Sooke elementary school at around 4 p.m.

“The fire started in an electrical connection that fed one of the light fixtures in the room,” said Fire Chief Steven Sorensen via email. “These lights were installed 17 years ago. Took this long for the short circuit to develop. The subsequent fire burned along the ceiling, scorching about 10 of the roof joists.

“If not for the action of the custodian who happened to do his rounds early that night, it is quite likely that the fire would have took hold of the ceiling and spread rapidly through that wing of the school.  It would have been very similar to what happened to the Evergreen Mall.  Fortunately quick action by the fire department in locating the seat of the fire and then knocking it down quickly prevented a major event.  The crews did a remarkable job last night and should be very proud of their efforts.”

Mutual aid was given by the Metchosin and Otter Point Fire Departments, along with the Sooke Ambulance and the RCMP assisting.

“Great support by Otter Point and Metchosin FDs at the fire and the Sooke Ambulance and RCMP in assisting in other duties,” said Sorensen.

Classes resumed the next day.

Sooke Elementary dates back to 1891 when the first school in Springside area became too small and Mr. William Bell Charters donated land for a new school. Since then the school has had new buildings, been rebuilt, then added to and more recently renovated. a claim to fame of being the oldest school in B.C. situated on the original site.

Currently they have 241 children.

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