Massive plumes of smoke rosing over downtown Nanaimo Wednesday night as flames devoured a historic Nanaimo block.
The first alarms that something was wrong started to ring at 6:30 pm and within half an hour the downtown was black with smoke and explosions rocked the towering structure that was home to businesses, a restaurant and peoples homes.
“Oh my god look at it go, look at it go,” says a distraught woman watching the fire take hold Wednesday night. “I can’t believe this we were just here like half an hour ago 45 minutes and everything was fine.”
There’s awe on the faces of crowds and firefighters alike as a massive fire devoured this downtown Nanaimo block in a matter of minutes.
“And we’re starting to attract a lot more businesses down here so to see this go up in flames is a big loss,” says Nanaimo councillor Jerry Hong.
Smoke began pouring from the building on 10 Commercial street at about 6:30 Wednesday night and within minutes flames had taken hold
“It’s a deep seated fire just by the smoke we are seeing in the air,” says Nanaimo Emergency Manager Karen Lindsay.
The historic block is believed to be over 100 years old and housed many businesses, including Cindy Cameron’s women’s boutique.
“Not sure how to take it right now but I’m just glad I have insurance,” says Cameron. “But I feel for a lot of people in the building that probably don’t.”
All four of the city’s fire stations have sent crew here, and late Wednesday night firefighters were being called in from home to protect the rest of the city. So crews are appealing to the public to stay away from the area.
“Yes because of the smoke’s so bad and we’re just asking people to let the responders work steer clear of the area,” says Lindsay.
What sparked the fire is unknown. Crews were expected to stay on scene battling and preventing the fire’s spread through the night. Closing roads into the downtown for everyone’s safety.