Burning couch displaces dozens

NANAIMO – Burning couch on stairwell landing evacuates central Nanaimo apartment building.

A couch on fire in a central Nanaimo apartment building displaced dozens of people from their homes Sunday.

The fire broke out at about 6 p.m. on the third floor of the St. George Manor apartment building in the 1000 block of St. George Street.

Martin Drakeley, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief, said fire crews found flames and smoke showing from the building when they arrived.

“It turns out, upon investigation, there was a couch on the third-floor landing and that part is still under investigation,” Drakeley said.

He said the fire was human-caused, but investigators have not determined if it was started by a smoldering cigarette accidentally or  if it was started intentionally by other means.

The blaze caused heavy fire and smoke damage to the immediate area before firefighters could knock it down. There was extensive smoke damaged throughout the third floor of the structure.

Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo Emergency Services coordinator, said 27 adults and five children registered for help through the Community Assistance Program. They were provided with food, shelter and basic necessities for 72 hours until they can move back into the building, but Lindsay said up to about 40 people might have been displaced, with those who didn’t register opting to stay with friends or relatives.

She said people were displaced from one half of the building because of smoke damage and because some of the building’s fire exits being rendered unusable by the blaze.

“So for safety reasons we had to put some people up in a hotel,” Lindsay said.

No one was injured in the incident.