Nanaimo home declared nuisance property destroyed in early morning fire

Nanaimo home declared nuisance property destroyed in early morning fire

Three people escaped unharmed from a Nanaimo house fire that the city declared a nuisance property earlier this year.

The fire sparked early Tuesday morning at a home in the 3100-block of Departure Bay Road, where three residents were located inside.

All three people were able to escape the burning building unharmed.

The home is a write-off and was well-known to police.

The huge plume of smoke drew Angus Weller, who lives nearby, off his usual dog walking routine.

“When the big plumes of smoke were going up there were two, perhaps three explosions, not huge but significant,” said Weller.

When he arrived he took some footage of the fully engulfed home at 3331 Departure Bay Road. Firefighters got the call shortly after 5:30 a.m.

“Crews arrived at a fully involved structure fire. They were able to knock it down fairly quickly but due to the terrain and the amount of involvement of fire they’re still doing an overhaul,” said Tim Doyle, Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief.

Doyle said two tenants who lived in a basement suite and the owner who lived upstairs escaped unharmed.

But it’s far from the first time the city’s protective services have been called to the home.

In January 2021, the city declared the home a nuisance property after police attended the home 54 times during the first 11 months of 2020.

The calls were for disturbances, yelling, family disputes, fighting — including a minor stabbing — loud music, and disruptions caused by unwanted guests.

The designation allows the city to charge for municipal services, including policing, required to stop future nuisance activity.

“The landlord has been having difficulty evicting his tenants based on how the current housing situation is. It’s very difficult for landlords to evict tenants,” said Capt. Alan Millbank with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

As for the cause, investigators have ruled it accidental and say it started near the rear of the rental suite.

“They found the remnants of cigarettes in a sawdust pile so it looks like the cigarettes smouldered for awhile, ignited the sawdust. The sawdust ignited some mattresses that were stored beside the side of the house,” said Millbank.

That ignited the rest of the house on fire. It’s now uninhabitable and a write-off. The landlord has insurance but the tenants did not. The tenants will be given emergency shelter for 72 hours as their caseworker tries to secure them a new place to live.

A view of the property following the blaze.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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