A hole the size of a city block has been opened in the heart of Nanaimo.
A devastating fire ripped through a historic block Wednesday night, devastating businesses that watched it burn as firefighters tried desperately to stop it from spreading to neighbouring blocks. The firefight lasted through the night, and has left that community in shock at what’s been lost.
Shock is setting in, in the heart of Nanaimo as people take stock of what’s been lost in this massive overnight blaze that consumed one whole city block and very nearly spread to more.
“Fires in buildings of this era and construction type are obviously very challenging fires for us,” says Fire Chief Craig Richardson of Nanaimo Fire Rescue. “So what you see behind you is what I would qualify as a very good save.”
Smoke began rising from the block at 10 Commercial Street at about 6:30 Wednesday night, moving furiously.
“Yeah it’s crazy. I just hope no one’s in there,” says Nanaimo resident Paige Harwood watching the fire burn.
Yet remarkably no one was injured. Thanks to a quick thinking crew commander who pulled firefighters before a smoke explosion ignited the building.
“What it is is smoke igniting rapidly creating a pressure within the building,” says Chief Richardson.
When it was finally controlled at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, nearly 12 hours after it started it had devoured one whole city block, and the 15 businesses inside. Very nearly spreading to more.
“And prevented anything else that could have tragically happened so I wanted to congratulate them,” says Nanaimo City Councillor Jerry Hong.
Residents are grateful to the men and women who stood in its way. Suffering the consequences, for the sake of the city.
“So many businesses in there and the firefighters putting their lives on the line saving us from it going to other buildings,” says Nanaimo resident Coleta Cranton.
What caused the fire is still unknown but the toll it’s taken is obvious.
“It’s been devastating it looks like we’ve lost a whole block of businesses,” says Corry Hosteller of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.
“Some people are going to rebuild out of this but some people aren’t going to be able to bring their businesses back,” says Nanaimo resident Rochelle Kennedy.
Transforming a historic landmark of Nanaimo and taking a piece of this downtown’s heart with it.