UPDATED 3:32 p.m.: Campbell River fire fighters responded to an apartment building on fire in the early hours on Wednesday morning.
The call came in at 4:23 a.m. for a structure fire in a four storey apartment building located at the corner of Dogwood St. and 9 ave. When crews arrived on scene one unit was fully involved on the second floor, with flames spreading to the third floor.
Phillip George Sr., a resident of the building, said he was initially woken up by what he thought was someone fighting outside his apartment.
“I was sleeping. I woke up because I thought I heard somebody fighting,” he said in a Facebook message to the Mirror. “I went and looked at the door and people are saying ‘get out there’s a fire on the second floor.’ ”
Campbell River Fire Chief Thomas Doherty explained that the crews initially entered the building to fight the fire and to do a search of the building for people still inside. They rescued four people from the building, and as of Wednesday afternoon no injuries have been reported.
“We made entry, trying to make a quick attack on it and at the same time trying to do a search of the building to make sure everyone was out,” Doherty said. “We started with an interior attack. The fire quickly spread to the floors above we changed strategy to more of a defensive attack where we were fighting it from the outside.”
The evacuees were taken in by Campbell River Emergency Support Services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, responders had to maintain social distancing among the evacuees and themselves.
“We had a number of people evacuated this morning,” Doherty explained. “We had to maintain distance and get them mustered and down to the reception centre. So we had a couple of buses helping us out with that to try and keep some distance between the people. It’s definitely a challenge.”
Around 85 people were evacuated from the building. ESS will be providing lodging at the Coast Discovery Inn for those displaced by the fire.
George said that the residents were in the hotel for seven days and that he was unsure of what would happen after that period was up.
“Everything in our places is gone,” he added.
As of 1 p.m. on Wednesday, crews were still on scene, fighting the fire that had spread to the roof of the building. Thanks to a fire wall inside the building, crews were able to contain the blaze to one wing of the apartment complex.
“The one section on the side of the firewall probably has some smoke damage to it, but other than that we were able to keep the fire damage away from that portion,” Doherty said. “There will be smoke damage and water damage throughout.”
Around 38 fire fighters have been involved in the response. Fire crews from Oyster River were called in to help cover the rest of Campbell River while the local crew was engaged in the fire.
Support for the evacuees was immediate on social media, with a group of people organizing an impromptu donation drop off, though the presence of COVID-19 has made it difficult to ensure the safety of any donations. A Facebook group supporting the evacuees was also started on Wednesday afternoon. The group is looking for volunteers and personal protective equipment to help sort donations.
UPDATED 12:11 p.m.: Campbell River firefighters continue to work on a large apartment fire that started early this morning.
Smoke could be seen rising from the apartment located at the corner of Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue as crews sprayed water on it from ladders above.
The fire began around 4:30 a.m. and more than 85 people have been displaced.
More to come.
ORIGINAL: Firefighters are currently attending a fire at Dogwood and Ninth this morning.
Traffic is being detoured around the area.
More to come…