Fire set to heat apartment sees Nanaimo firefighters called

NANAIMO – Tenants of apartment building with no heat light fire in their living room.

Firefighters made an unexpected find when they responded to a fire in an apartment building on Townsite Road on the weekend.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue was called out shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday to a possible structure fire at 571 Townsite Rd., but when crews arrived they found tenants in one of the building’s apartments had lit a fire in a bucket to warm up after the building’s heating system had apparently failed.

“When crews got there the occupants were burning materials in the living room on the floor, in a ceramic type bucket, to produce heat,” said Capt. Ennis Mond, chief fire prevention officer. “Apparently there was no heat on in the building.”

Mond said the scene was being investigated Monday morning to determine why the building allegedly had no heat or working smoke alarms.

Mond said there was a real danger of asphyxiation from building a fire in a living room.

Electrical inspectors were also sent in because other tenants had been using electric space heaters as their primary heat sources.

The building’s owners live on the Lower Mainland, Mond said, and the address has been investigated previously for heating system failure issues.

“We dealt with this issue in 2007,” Mond said. “It was turned over to the electrical safety branch. They went in and did their thing and that’s been about it.”

The follow up action will be to have working smoke alarms installed in the building and to deal with any fire safety-related issues, Mond said.

The building tenants, however, will have to go through the B.C. Residential  Tenancy Office to address any additional problems.