All tenants got out safety when an apartment fire last night in the 600 block of 4th Ave. forced everyone out of the building.
“Approximately 40 people and their family pets were living in the building,” says Acting Fire Chief Ian Baikie. “About half found temporary shelter for the night through family and friends. The others were assisted by the provincial government’s emergency social services team, which offered food, clothing and lodging for up to three days.”
The fire started in a first-floor unit, and was burning out of a window when fire crews arrived. The fire destroyed all the contents in the unit, and one cat perished. The tenants’ personal belonging in this unit were not insured, and the Fire Department is asking the Red Cross to assist.
“While the fire was contained to the unit where it started, there is considerable smoke and water damage to the first floor hallway, and hallways of the second through fourth floors were filled with smoke,” Baikie says.
Twenty-five of the 29 units were rented in the four-storey walk-up apartment building, and Baikie praised the residents for their swift and calm evacuation of the building. “Emergency responders worked with the residents to get information about any important items like medications people might need overnight, and fire crews were able to get these items for people who needed them,” Baikie adds.
“We’re working with the building owner this morning to have safety systems like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers replaced, and we’re assessing which units people can move back into, and how soon,” Baikie says. “We’re hopeful some people might be able to return as early as this evening, and we’ll let people know as soon as possible.”
The Fire Department received the call at 7:30 p.m. and had the first fire truck on the scene by 7:35. Twenty-five members and six emergency vehicles from both fire halls attended at the scene. The fire was extinguished, with no flames visible, by 7:47. Crews remained on scene until 10:45 to gather important personal belongings for residents and to investigate the cause of the fire. BC Ambulance, the RCMP, Emergency Social Services and BC Hydro also assisted.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.