Ten residents displaced in fire in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay neighbourhood

NANAIMO – Fire in Departure Bay sends four people to hospital and displaces residents and businesses on the weekend.

A fire in Departure Bay on the weekend sent four people to hospital, displaced 10 residents and shut down three businesses.

The blaze broke out in a commercial and residential building at the corner of Departure Bay Road and Wingrove Street shortly before 8:45 a.m. Saturday.

Ten people living in apartments on the second floor of the building were evacuated and are currently displaced from their homes.

Most of the tenants evacuated with just the clothes on their backs. Four people suffered smoke inhalation when they went back into the building to try and recover personal items.

“We’re trying to remind people, once you’re out, stay out and don’t try to go back in to retrieve personal items,” said Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo Emergency Services coordinator, who was on the scene.

Seven of the apartment tenants were provided with one overnight’s stay at a hotel through the city’s emergency assistance program.

“They had nothing,” Lindsay said. “They basically had the clothes on their back. They had no wallets. They basically went out and what they were wearing is what they had.”

Lindsay said all but one of the businesses was insured.

“There were two business owners affected in addition to Amrikko’s [restaurant],” Lindsay said. “I don’t know how long they will be out of business, but they won’t be able to operate in their location at this point in time.”

Crews were on scene for several hours rooting out hot spots in the structure.

“It was a stubborn fire and crews were there for several hours,” Lindsay said. “I don’t know the extent of the damage, but there was definitely some smoke damage and possibly some structural damage.”

Investigators worked the site over the weekend to determine the cause of the fire and were going back to the scene Monday to carry out an electrical inspection, but there has been no official determination of the cause.

“I’m just waiting for an electrical inspector to get a hold of me and we can arrange a meeting down there,” said Rick Kwasnecha, fire prevention officer.