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Fire rips through North Vancouver apartment building, displacing dozens

Fire forces evacuation of North Vancouver apartment complex
WATCH: Dozens of residents are now temporarily homeless after their North Vancouver apartment building suddenly caught fire in the early morning. Grace Ke has more, including what may have caused the blaze.

Dozens of residents are out of their homes after a fire damaged a North Vancouver apartment building early Sunday morning.

Fire crews were called to the three-storey building in a complex in the 1400-block of St. Andrews Avenue around 5 a.m. to find flames shooting out of a suite on the top floor.

WATCH: (Aired Feb. 23, 2017) Good samaritans save family from North Vancouver fire

Good samaritans save family from North Vancouver fire
Good samaritans save family from North Vancouver fire

North Vancouver Fire Department Chief Dan Pistilli said the fire started on the balcony of the suite before extending to the roof.

“There was serious damage to two suites on the third floor, and there’s extensive water damage to the entire building,” Pistilli said.

READ MORE: Weekend house fire displaces North Vancouver family

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No one was injured, but at least 40 people were displaced, the chief said, with no word on when they’ll be allowed back in their homes.

The residents are staying at an emergency management office while crews assess the damage, but that service will only last for 72 hours, leaving residents to rely on their own insurance afterwards.

Flames seen shooting out of the top of a third-floor suite at a North Vancouver apartment building early Sunday, May 5, 2019.
Flames seen shooting out of the top of a third-floor suite at a North Vancouver apartment building early Sunday, May 5, 2019. Submitted

“It will be several months before the building is reoccupied again,” Pistilli said. “There’s an extensive amount of work that needs to be done to get everything dried up.”

The other three buildings in the complex had their power cut for safety reasons, with no word on when it will be restored.

One resident said the alarms didn’t start ringing until well after the fire started because it originated on the balcony.

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“It wasn’t until it spread to the attic and the smoke started going into the building that the alarms went off,” Ali Moshajari, who lives in one of the other buildings, said in front of the scene.

Pistilli said the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but added investigators are looking at smoking as a possibility. An ashtray was found on the balcony, he said.

He added most new complexes have sprinkler systems on the decks, but the 10-year-old building did not have that feature installed.

—With files from Grace Ke