HomeNewsIsland & CoastStructure fire displaces over 50 people from housing facility

Structure fire displaces over 50 people from housing facility

A structure fire resulted in more than 50 people being displaced in Nanaimo.

The incident happened early Sunday morning.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue was dispatched when alarms were activated at the Samaritan House at Nicol Street.

Assistant chief of operations Troy Libbus says 4 engines and a total of 16 firefighters attended.

“Upon arrival, engine 5 established command and evacuation was in progress, with reports of smoke on the third floor,” said Libbus.

“The commander did a size-up and sent in an attack crew to the third floor, and as they were advancing up the stairwell people were still evacuating, there was smoke, and the sprinkler system was going.”

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Libbus says the sprinklers helped knock down and hold the fire at bay, and while evacuating people, crews moved in to extinguish the rest of it, taking only a few minutes.

The fire was revealed to be a mattress fire caused by a person smoking in their room, where it got caught onto the mattress.

While no one was injured from the fire, Libbus says 51 people were displaced from the house.

“I brought in two buses, and then we shipped them off to Bowen Park to keep them warm and safe until the house made arrangements to place them for the evening,” said Libbus.

He says the facility had a restoration company come in to deal with the water and residual smoke from the third floor.

The house is operated by the Island Crisis Care Society, an organization focusing on providing shelter and care for those in need.

Resource development coordinator of the society Jennifer Short says they went into crisis mode during that incident.

“The fire department and everybody was doing their thing in the building, so our focus was to make sure our residents were properly supported,” said Short.

“So, we took that time to find temporary accommodation for everybody, and thankfully we’ve been able to do the majority of that throughout our other housing sites.”

Short says they have seven housing sites, with the residents living throughout these sites for the time-being.

She adds they have so far moved some of them back into the Samaritan house, and they are currently working on the third floor to move everyone back in.

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