Three people were taken to hospital and dozens more evacuated after a fire caused damage to a Kitsilano apartment building early Friday morning.
Assistant Chief Kevin Wilson said crews were called to the three-storey building in the 2000 block of Arbutus Street shortly after 6 a.m.
“Our crews that first arrived on scene found smoke and flames covering the full length of the building,” he said.
Those crews escalated the call to a second alarm, bringing 36 firefighters to the scene.
Wilson said the fire, which is believed to have started on an outside deck on the second floor of the building, spread up and across the building “very rapidly” in all directions.
Forty units were affected, prompting crews to evacuate the building.
“Sometimes, people don’t listen to the alarm because they think it’s a false alarm so we had to go door to door and do a search and request people to come out,” he said.
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Wilson said one person was taken to hospital with burns to their fingers while two more suffered smoke inhalation.
B.C. Emergency Health Services said all three patients were transported to hospital in stable condition.
Wilson said there is “extensive” smoke damage to the second floor and water damage to the first. The third floor was undamaged.
“The fire damage was contained to the suite in question and the outer deck,” he said.
He added the building is older with a wood-framed roof and no sprinklers inside.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Several residents who were forced to spend Friday morning sitting outside their homes said the alarm came as a shock.
“I woke up and was like is that an alarm?” said Camille Obianyor, whose apartment was below the one that went up in flames.
“My friend said it’s probably an exercise, but then I heard outside someone yelling: ‘Fire, fire!’ So we jumped out of bed and realized it was real.”
It’s not yet known how many suites may be deemed uninhabitable.
— With files from Jennifer Palma