A fire in a storage room forced tenants to evacuate a Nanaimo apartment building on Tuesday. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

UPDATE: Fire in Nanaimo apartment building was deliberately set

Wad of paper was set alight in storage room before fire was snuffed out by sprinkler system

A suspicious fire in a Nanaimo apartment building forced about 50 tenants to evacuate on Tuesday (Aug. 8).

Firefighters responded to the alarm at Parkside Manor apartments at 645 Townsite Rd. at about 3:30 p.m.

Emergency personnel at the scene said the fire started in a storage room on the first floor of the building and was knocked down by the structure’s automatic sprinkler system. Firefighters ensured the fire was fully extinguished and used a large fan to force fresh air through the building.

Alan Millbank, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, confirmed Wednesday the fire was suspicious and the investigation had been turned over to Nanaimo RCMP.

“Somebody deliberately set it alight,” Millbank said.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said police were called in shortly after firefighters arrived on scene.

“[Firefighters] found a wad of paper balled up in one of the storage lockers and it had been set on fire,” O’Brien said. “The fire extended up some wooden pallets to the ceiling at which point the sprinklers activated and put the fire out.”

No one was injured, but residents had to remain evacuated from the building for more than an hour while smoke fully cleared from the structure.

Nanaimo RCMP are continuing to investigate the fire.

photos@nanaimobulletin.com