Early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island building, home

Fire, ambulance and other emergency personnel were on hand dealing with an early-morning fire in Coombs on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)Fire, ambulance and other emergency personnel were on hand dealing with an early-morning fire in Coombs on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)
Fire crews use high ladder to help douse the flames on a building that caught fire in Coombs early on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)Fire crews use high ladder to help douse the flames on a building that caught fire in Coombs early on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)
The facade of a Coombs building that caught fire early Jan. 3, 2021. The damage was extensive. (Michael Briones photo)The facade of a Coombs building that caught fire early Jan. 3, 2021. The damage was extensive. (Michael Briones photo)
The aftermath of a fire in Coombs early Jan. 3, 2021. (Michael Briones photo)The aftermath of a fire in Coombs early Jan. 3, 2021. (Michael Briones photo)
Fire, ambulance and other emergency personnel were on hand dealing with an early-morning fire in Coombs on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)Fire, ambulance and other emergency personnel were on hand dealing with an early-morning fire in Coombs on Jan. 3, 2021. (Peter McCully photo)

No injuries were reported after a massive early-morning blaze lit up the dark sky Sunday (Jan. 3) in Coombs.

Coombs Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department attended the blaze, arriving on-scene at approximately 2 a.m. Other detachments from Deep Bay to Lantzville also responded to the scene. One firefighter on-scene said flames climbed to almost 100 feet in the air at one point.

Incident commander Capt. Brad Cornish said there was fire coming out on the side of the structure when they arrived.

The building, formerly the Sanctuary of the Rastafarian Order church, is located between Station Road and Ford Road along Alberni Highway. There was nobody inside the building.

A residential home behind the property also caught fire. Two residents were able to leave the house safely.

“It was a heavy fire load and it went up fast,” Cornish said.

READ MORE: Parksville hotel evacuated after third-floor fire

The high flames created a challenging situation for the firefighters.

“We got no hydrants out here so the big thing was water supply, keeping water flowing,” said Cornish. “I needed to call other neighbouring departments from Lantzville to Bow Horn Bay to assist us with water, shuttling manpower and other stuff.”

There was a danger of the fire spreading to other buildings nearby but Cornish said that they were able to place some crews between the buildings to monitor exposures.

“The crews did an awesome job from keeping it from spreading,” said Cornish.

The building and home suffered extensive damages and are likely to be written off, said Cornish.

Fire crews were still at the scene near noon, dealing with hot spots and any smouldering debris. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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