Fire investigators employ an aerial ladder truck to do an overhead inspection of fire damage to the Family Practice Clinic that was destroyed by a blaze on the weekend. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Fire investigators employ an aerial ladder truck to do an overhead inspection of fire damage to the Family Practice Clinic that was destroyed by a blaze on the weekend. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Fire destroys Nanaimo medical clinic, doctors will try to keep helping patients

Investigators trying to determine cause of blaze at building on 104th Street

Several doctors and support staff will be working from home and alternative offices after a fire destroyed the Family Practice Clinic on the weekend.

Firefighters responded to the alarm in the 2700 block of 104th Street on Sunday, May 16, at about 7:30 a.m.

Capt. Tom Krall, of Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said there was heavy smoke coming from the building when firefighters arrived.

“It was all in the attic,” Krall said. “It was heavy, dark brown smoke, and then the flames broke through the roof and it was fully involved.”

Most of the fire damage was restricted to the attic and roof of the single-storey building, which was constructed in 1983, but the main floor of the clinic suffered extensive water and smoke damage.

“We were able to salvage quite a bit of medications, documents, cash, stethoscopes, medical supplies … as tragic as it is, [building owners] say they are super happy that at least they’re able to salvage and that way they can set up at another clinic,” Krall said.

He said about 20 firefighters were on scene to battle the fire.

Seven doctors and two UBC graduates doing their residencies worked at the clinic, plus five support staff. The clinic served approximately 15,000 patients.

Dr. Nick Schulson, one of the clinic’s physicians, said patient records were all on an electronic medical records database and the records were intact.

“I may get mad at my computer, but I love it today,” Schulson said.

Doctors who had patients booked for appointments were able to call patients the night of the fire to inform them what had happened.

Schulson said phone answering services have been transferred to some employees’ homes. Patients are advised to call the phone numbers they would normally use to contact the clinic.

“We had our full clinic meeting this morning to plan next steps moving forward, how to keep in contact with patients and where we’re going from here,” the doctor said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Schulson said there appeared to have been no evidence of a break-and-enter or suspicious circumstances around how the fire started and that it was possibly caused by an electrical malfunction.

READ ALSO: Cigarettes sparked fire that ripped through house in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay area



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Clinic staff recover hard copy records, photographs and equipment from the heavily damaged Family Practice Clinic after a fire ripped through the roof of the building Sunday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Clinic staff recover hard copy records, photographs and equipment from the heavily damaged Family Practice Clinic after a fire ripped through the roof of the building Sunday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Dr. Nick Schulson, one of the physicians at the Family Practice Clinic said there appeared to be nothing suspicious about the fire, patients records were on an electronic database and weren’t affected, and patient services would be up and running before the end of this week. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Dr. Nick Schulson, one of the physicians at the Family Practice Clinic said there appeared to be nothing suspicious about the fire, patients records were on an electronic database and weren’t affected, and patient services would be up and running before the end of this week. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Firefighter Randy Tait, left, and Capt. Tom Krall help clinic staff retrieve medical equipment, medications, photographs and other salvageable items from the heavily damaged building Monday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Firefighter Randy Tait, left, and Capt. Tom Krall help clinic staff retrieve medical equipment, medications, photographs and other salvageable items from the heavily damaged building Monday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)