Overnight Apartment Fire Claims Two Lives, Injures 16 in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER—An apartment fire in North Vancouver has killed two people and sent more than a dozen to hospital for treatment of various injuries, fire officials say.

The victims were trapped when the blaze tore through one of four buildings in the 170-unit complex early Monday, said Wayne Kennedy, deputy chief with District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue.

“One half of the building was fully affected by the fire and the other half was affected by smoke and water,” Kennedy said of the fire that gutted 16 units in the wooden building of about 30 suites.

Flames were visible as firefighters pulled up, Kennedy said, but residents from other suites were already rushing to assist people, he said, adding that was a huge help to crews.

As a precaution, crews evacuated other buildings in the sprawling 4.5-hectare complex and sent more than 100 residents to a nearby reception centre.

They didn’t immediately realize two people were trapped, Kennedy said.

“There was some mention to us, early on, that there were a couple of people that weren’t accounted for, but due to the intensity of the fire and the amount of units that were involved it wasn’t a safe alternative for us to get into some of the units until we had a better control of the fire.”

Firefighters were able to check the suites several hours later and found both people in the same unit.

The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed via email that it is in the early stages of an investigation.
Names or ages of the victims were not immediately being released.

Fire officials said 16 survivors were treated in several area hospitals for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to burns.

Most residents were allowed to return to their suites in unaffected parts of the complex within hours but crews continued to douse hot spots Monday, and Kennedy said an assessment of the structural integrity of the building would also be required.

He said it was still unclear what sparked the fire but work to determine a cause would begin as soon as possible.