News

Fire rips through townhouse

A woman had to jump out a second-floor window to escape a fire that burned through her townhouse Monday evening.

The fire affected four units in the Highland Boulevard complex, said Doug Bell, chief fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

The woman was in the bedroom she was renting from the owner of the townhouse – who was not home at the time of the fire – just before 8:30 p.m. when she opened the door to a wall of thick, black smoke, he said.

A man next door helped her to safety once she jumped out the window.

While fire damage was contained to the suite where the blaze originated, B.C. Hydro had to shut off power temporarily to the three surrounding townhouses as well due to damaged hydro wires.

The owners of the townhouse to the right, who are away on vacation, have water and smoke damage to their unit, said Bell, and the unit to the left has a bit of smoke smell in it.

The fire-damaged apartment is still structurally sound, but the two people living in it have lost everything because they had no content insurance, he added.

The strata's insurance will cover repairs to the building.

"It was a very, very hot fire and the damage was pretty well complete when our crews got there," said Bell.

The city's emergency social services department was helping people in two of the units, as none of them had content insurance, but Bell said once the people on vacation return, they may also need assistance if they have no insurance.

Fire investigators Ennis Mond and Rick Kwasnecha were at the townhouse most of the day Tuesday sorting through the rubble.

Mond said cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but it is not a suspicious fire.

Investigators believe the fire started downstairs in the living room, but need to talk to the woman, who was still in hospital Wednesday with undisclosed injuries from the jump from her window, before releasing further details about cause of the fire.

"I need to confirm with the girl what she saw and did prior to the fire," said Mond.

The townhouse complex is almost right across the street from Fire Station 2 and investigators are also trying to figure out either why the fire was called in so late or what happened to speed up the progress of the fire before crews got there, he added.

"When the fire crews got there, that unit was fully involved," said Mond.

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