Several people have been displaced from their homes following an apartment fire in Nanaimo Saturday morning.
The blaze broke out at the Riverbend Terrace Apartments on Millstone Avenue at 9 a.m. While everyone managed to escape, at least one pet died in the fire, according to fire crews.
There are 14 units in the building and after fire alarms went off, tenants quickly rushed outside to safety.
“You could see the smoke. You could actually smell it, and I have two kids at home as well, but we got them out. They were freaking out,” said Bailey Dalman, one of the displaced tenants.
“I live in the back and there were just flames shooting out the window…” said Kirk Lowrie, another displaced tenant.
Lowrie went into a neighbour’s unit and rescued their dog just in case.
Another neighbour says he had to help the female tenant in the unit where the fire originated hop over her balcony railing to escape the flames. BC Ambulance paramedics treated her for some smoke inhalation.
When firefighters arrived on scene, there was heavy smoke coming from units on the front and back sides of the building.
“Challenging fire based on the back parking lot is below grade, so elevation was an issue for us, but crews worked quickly and we were able to get the fire under control in a few minutes,” said Cpt. Chad Porter with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
Officials say there was significant damage to the first and second-floor suites, including four suites that were damaged by a combination of smoke, fire and water.
Unfortunately, a cat from a second-floor unit died in the fire and some other cats are still unaccounted for.
“We have Emergency Support Services supporting the displaced occupants and a regional district bus coming to house people, keep them warm during this process,” said Porter.
All the displaced tenants who didn’t have anywhere else to stay are being put up in a motel as officials work to ensure the building’s safety and services are working before allowing them to return.
A fire investigation into the cause is scheduled for Monday.