A Vancouver firefighter has been injured as crews battled a four-alarm apartment fire in Vancouver’s West End.
The unnamed firefighter was treated by B.C. Ambulance paramedics and taken to hospital with unknown injuries, while fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze at the Washington Court apartments at 998 Thurlow St. Flames spread through walls and ceiling voids, which complicated the effort.
“Crews continue to chase and attack this stubborn fire under challenging conditions,” Vancouver Fire Rescue said in a tweet early Thursday.
A witness says the fire started on the fourth floor at the rear of the five-storey building at around 9 a.m.
Firefighters were seen on the building’s roof using chainsaws to get at the flames. Black smoke, which was first spotted billowing from a fourth-floor window, moved to a fifth-floor window and then spread to the roof and out the building’s eaves.
Fire trucks responding to the blaze initially had trouble navigating traffic during the morning rush hour in the city’s most densely populated neighbourhood. The trucks were blaring their horns and sirens to notify drivers as they raced to the scene.
Thurlow Street was shut down at Robson Street, while Nelson was totally shut off to traffic at Thurlow. As of noon, the streets remained closed and drivers were advised to avoid the area.
B.C. Hydro crews were at the scene shutting down power to the building.
By 2:30 p.m., firefighters were mopping up as investigators tried to determine the cause of the blaze.
Vancouver Fire Rescue says several suites have been left uninhabitable and B.C. Emergency Social Services is at the scene.
Fire Capt. Jonathan Gormick says at least six suites were seriously damaged.
“Those suites will need significant work before people will be able to move back in,” Gormick said. “As for the rest of the building, it will probably be a couple of days before residents can return.
“The power was turned off and we had to punch a few holes in the roof to gain access to some of the hot spots. They’ll have to patch those holes before anyone can safely access the apartment.”
Displaced residents can apply to receive free lodging for up to 72 hours from Emergency Social Services.
Gormick said he couldn’t comment on the status of the injured firefighter, whose name wasn’t released.