A hot water tank was leaking natural gas that ignited in the basement about 9:30 a.m. while students were in class upstairs at Venture Academy. Staff evacuated nine boys, ages 13 to 18, and took them to a park as the alarm rang.
“I had all the boys with me,” said Connie Buckle, the school’s clinical director. “After we opened the (classroom) door… I could smell the gas. We just evacuated immediately.”
The nine girls at the school were away on an activity. Firefighters quickly smothered the fire and used fans to blow out the odour. A technician repaired the water tank as students remained off site.
“The kids will enjoy the day,” said Buckle. The private school, located at Gallagher Road and Highway 33, helps troubled teens from across Western Canada.
The residential program operates as an alternative to boot camp or boarding schools. Students are separated by gender while attending class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They live with host families in the Kelowna area.
Venture Academy moved into its current location two years ago, but has operated in Kelowna for a decade. Until a few years ago, the building was home to the Black Mountain Schoolhouse Pub. Decades earlier, it served as Black Mountain School.