Five people hospitalized after fire in residential building in Vancouver: chief

VANCOUVER — Five people have been taken to hospital and officials have been trying to hold everyone who lived in a building that caught fire Monday in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood to account.

VANCOUVER — Five people have been taken to hospital and officials have been trying to hold everyone who lived in a building that caught fire Monday in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood to account.

Officials did not know the status of all residents of the four-story building and they were looking for “more than a handful”, said fire chief Karen Fry, adding that people could have been taken out or dispersed after fled the flames.

British Columbia Emergency Health Services said five people were taken to hospital and paramedics treated others for minor injuries at the scene. It says two of those who were hospitalized were in serious condition and the other three were in stable condition.

Fry said paramedics told him a person was injured jumping from an upper floor as firefighters arrived and another woman was hospitalized after being rescued from the second floor about an hour after the start of the fire.

Firefighters used a ladder truck to rescue others from upper floors, which were engulfed in smoke and flames at the time, the chief said.

The fire appears to have started on the third or fourth floor, but officials won’t know the cause until the investigation is complete, Fry said.

Fry said firefighters were called around 11 a.m. and found flames and heavy smoke coming from the building, which contains one-room units. It housed vulnerable residents of the city’s Downtown Eastside and accommodation will need to be provided for those who have been displaced, she said.

By mid-afternoon, Fry said part of the roof had collapsed. Crews were attacking the fire from all sides to prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings, she said.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told a separate press conference on Monday that around 70 residents were affected and a reception center was being set up for those who needed help.

Fry said the building had recently been inspected and had a sprinkler system, but she was unsure if it was working when the fire broke out.

The smoke that drifted through the city center from the fire was toxic and should be avoided, she added.

The building is one of the oldest in the area, Fry said, and it likely had a timber frame with a brick facade that was crumbling in places.

“Once (the fire) gets into the membrane of the building or the exterior walls and into the roof, it’s really difficult, it’s like you’re chasing it, chasing the fire.”

About 55 firefighters plus support personnel responded to the call, Fry said. British Columbia Emergency Health Services said nine paramedic ground units and three paramedic supervisors also responded to the fire.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 11, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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