Two waterfront homes in Belcarra were completely destroyed after fire broke out in a basement suite Sunday afternoon.
Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department chief Jay Sharpe said nobody was hurt in the incident, which occurred on Turtlehead Road at around 1 p.m., and investigators are still trying to determine what caused the blaze.
"It started on the lowest level in a small studio suite," he said, adding that the 1970s homes were covered in cedar siding. "The fire spread upward and involved the entire house. By the time we got there, the fire had spread to the house beside it."
Most of the homes in the area have garages at the street level, while the main structures are located closer to the water. Sharpe said that made dousing the flames particularly difficult for crews on the scene.
"The houses go down the cliff," he said. "Getting around to the front of them to attack the fire is virtually impossible."
The region's lone fire boat, located in the city of Vancouver, was contacted, but it was already out on another call. However, had the boat been able to get on scene, Sharpe said by the time it arrived it is unlikely it would have made much difference.
"The outcome would have still been that two houses burned down," he added.
Several people in nearby homes left the area voluntarily, but Sharpe said once crews arrived they were able to contain the fire and no evacuation order was given.
Despite the damage, he added that Sunday's blaze would have been much worse had it occurred in the summer months. Sharpe noted that two trees candled in the incident — meaning they were completely torched — and in drier conditions it is likely the flames would have spread further.
"It that happened in the summertime, I can't imagine," he said, adding that people need to always report fires and not assume that other people have already called 911.