A fire has forced 20 people out of a supporting-housing complex on Terminal Avenue in Nanaimo.

Fire Chief Karen Fry says crews arrived to find flames shooting out of both sides of the structure.

She says all 20 people inside the Island Crisis Centre-run facility at the time escaped without injury.

The fire was contained to one unit, but there is heavy smoke and water damage to the others.

Chief Fry confirms that because it is a temporary facility there are no sprinklers in the structure, but there are fire alarms.

The complex is made of 80 units of re-purposed housing from mining camps which are meant to be replaced with permanent housing at a later date.

Chief Fry says it might be several days before residents will be allowed to return to the damaged units.

BC Housing and the Island Crisis Society have found shelter beds for those impacted.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Residents are not allowed to smoke or use hotplates in their units, but Chief Fry says there have been a number of apparent violations.

She says met with BC Housing staff on Monday morning to discuss general safety issues.

In December, more than 150 people were moved from a tent city in Nanaimo to the facility on Terminal Avenue and another on one Labieux.

 

Ben O'Hara