A man was arrested Friday following a fire that gutted one suite and badly damaged another at a townhouse complex in Victoria.
VicPD said shortly after 4 a.m. officers were called to the 2500-block of Blanshard Street for a report of a dispute in the Evergreen Terrace complex. According to police, when officers entered the suite to ensure the safety of everyone involved, they found the interior on fire with multiple residents inside.
The officers got all of the residents out and tried to extinguish the fire but were not successful. Additional officers helped with evacuating the surrounding units as the fire was spreading to neighbouring suites. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said six families and seven units (one unit was vacant) were evacuated in total.
All Victoria fire units were called to fight the fire, with 20 firefighters battling the blaze. Victoria Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Moody said was a wind-driven fire and it was fully involved when crews arrived. A neighbour said flames could be seen shooting from the roof of the building.
VicPD arrested one man at the scene and later said there was no reason to believe the public is at risk. Two VicPD officers were taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the suite where the fire started was a three-bedroom unit. Four units are severely damaged and tenants will not be able to return until the units are remediated.
Emergency Social Services will provide temporary accommodation for up to seven days. BC Housing will be housing three of the displaced families in alternate units at Evergreen Housing by next week and the fourth family will be moving to housing in another complex. The other two families who had to be evacuated will be able to return to their own unites in the next few days.
Officers with VicPDs Major Crime Unit and Forensic Identification Section are still investigating. Police said there is no information to indicate this fire is related to any other fires in the Victoria area, including the old Plaza Hotel.
This is the second large fire within three years. Eight units were lost in a 2016 fire and BC Housing is installing 21 units of modular supportive housing where the eight units were located. The project is set to be finished by the end of the year.
The northbound lanes of Blanshard between Bay Street and Hillside Avenue were closed but are now open.