A B.C. fire chief says the province needs to do more to prevent balcony fires in apartment buildings after a barbecue sparked a massive fire in a Kelowna apartment complex, leaving dozens of people homeless.

Surrey fire Chief Len Garis recommends either installing spinklers or heat detectors on all apartment balconies.

"These are very significant fires and do a lot of damage," Garis said.

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A massive fire forced residents of a Kelowna apartment complex out of their homes Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)

"From a strategy perspective there are things we can do. We have to recognize the problem. Our research clearly tells us that these fires extend well beyond where most other fires do. And it is a severe vulnerability associated with these buildings."

Ten per cent of apartment complex fires in B.C. start on balconies, according to Garis.

With files from CBC's Brady Strachan