More than 70 people have been displaced after fire razed an apartment building in Vancouver on Thursday night, keeping crews at the scene dousing flames into Friday morning.
The fire at Prince Edward Street and East 10th Avenue broke out around 8:30 p.m., sparking on the third floor, according to Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
Three people and a dog were rescued from balconies facing the alley. While all human occupants from more than 40 units escaped safely, some pets were stuck in the building overnight.
While resident Michael McKay got his cat back, it was unclear Friday whether all animals were so lucky.
“I’m so grateful that Michael and his partner and their cats — you know we can go on from here, possessions can be replaced,” said his brother, George McKay.
“I hope everyone else is okay in this building. I don’t know what’s happened to the other animals. I think we’re very lucky we’re in this location. The fire department showed up very quickly from what I understand and probably got the best outcome of a really bad situation.”
Some evacuated residents and at least one firefighter were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and a number of other firefighters were treated by paramedics at the scene and monitored for heat exhaustion.
Resident Greg Taylor told Global News the building had no fire extinguishers or sprinklers, and said the City of Vancouver was aware of some issues, but the building fell through the cracks “due to the housing crisis.”
In a written statement, the City of Vancouver confirmed it had received complaints about the building that were not related to safety, “and followed up with the property owner, who corrected or was actively remedying the concerns.”
In an afternoon statement, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services added that its Fire Prevention Division is reviewing the history of previous incidents and fire inspections that occurred at the building.
The fire created a tremendous amount of smoke and crews urged people nearby to shut their doors and windows. Firefighters said it was a third-alarm fire with more than 70 personnel responding.
A cause has not yet been determined.
Meanwhile, Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry says a reception centre has been set up for displaced residents.
— with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey