A fire broke out at a temporary supportive housing site in the evening hours Monday.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded to a structure fire at Newcastle Place temporary supportive housing site at 250 Terminal Ave. at approximately 5:20 p.m. Smoke could be seen coming from one of the buildings.
Residents were evacuated from the property. Both northbound lanes were blocked off on Terminal Avenue, with traffic detoured.
B.C. Ambulance Service was also on scene.
Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said crews arrived on scene to find flames pouring out of one the site’s buildings.
“They arrived on scene to heavy flames showing from one unit, with smoke coming out of every opening,” she said. “From that point we started knocking the fire down from the outside.”
Fry said all of the site’s residents escaped without any injuries, but 20 residents will be displaced as a result of the fire. She said Island Crisis Care Society, the site’s operator, is looking for alternative accommodations for them.
Although the buildings had smoke alarms, they did not have a sprinkler system installed, according to Fry, who said it isn’t a requirement.
“B.C. Housing can kind of surpass some of the requirements because it’s a temporary location,” she said.
Fry said investigators are still working to determine the cause of the blaze. She also noted that while Island Crisis Care Society instructs residents that they are not allowed to cook or smoke inside the units, there have been issues in the past.
“We have noted deficiencies with that previously,” she said. “We are going to be working with B.C. Housing and Island Crisis Care Society to make the building as safe as possible,” she said.
The property is the site of an 80-unit temporary supportive housing complex that was erected late last year. The provincial government purchased the property last year for $2-million in an effort to provide housing for those living at an illegal homeless camp in downtown Nanaimo.
A employee at the site (who asked not to be named) tells me everyone got out safely.
— Nicholas M Pescod (@npescod) April 9, 2019
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