Fires kill two

Saskatchewan snowbird perishes in Oroville RV blaze

— A Saskatchewan man died in an early Saturday morning RV fire that officials believe was caused by a space heater.

The body of 84-year-old Cornelius D. Friesen of Glenbush, Saskatchewan, was not found until Oroville firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze.

The fire was reported at 4:06 a.m. at Prince’s Center, 1000 23rd Ave., Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said.

“The trailer belonged to Friesen, who comes down to Oroville during the winter and was living in the trailer,” Rogers said. Friesen was the trailer’s only occupant.

Despite getting firefighters out the door within four minutes of the call, Oroville Fire Chief Rod Noel said they were too late.

“The flames were coming out the windows when we arrived. Totally involved,” Noel said.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was first on scene and called in the fire. Noel said the agent tried to wake Friesen.

“He shot his little 3-pound fire extinguisher through the door, which he said did absolutely nothing. But at least he made an attempt,” Noel said.

“He shouted and beat on the windows, and didn’t get any response.”

The bedroom where Friesen slept was in the rear of the 30-foot trailer.

“It was a very sad event,” Noel said. “There was just too much fire there for anybody to survive it.”

Although Friesen didn’t appear to have family in the immediate area, he was a regular at Prince’s and the Oroville Senior Center. And he worshiped at Free Methodist Church.

“My understanding, just visiting with some of the folks in the area, this hasn’t been his first winter down here,” Noel said. “My indication from them was that he was really a nice guy.”

Sheriff’s Office detective Kreg Sloan investigated the fire, Rogers said.

“There was nothing suspicious or anything like that,” he said.

Noel said he has become extra cautious about space heaters in his years as fire chief.

“You’ve got to be very careful when you use them,” he said.

The fire-related death is the second in less than two week in the Oroville-Osoyoos area.

In Osoyoos, B.C., Deleyne Hunter, 52, died Jan. 18 from injuries she sustained in a duplex fire the day before at the duplex where she lived on 92nd Avenue.

That blaze reportedly started in the living room, but the cause is under investigation.

Another victim in that fire, 41-year-old Sheldon Hall, was last reported in stable condition in the hospital’s burn unit.

Officials said 35 percent of his body suffered serious burns.


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