Firefighters assess damage and next moves after knocking down a house fire in Nanaimo that sent two people to hospital with smoke inhalation, Friday. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Electrical malfunction the likely cause of Howard Avenue house fire

Fire on Friday displaced three people

UPDATE: A fire on Howard Avenue that displaced three people Friday likely started with an electrical malfunction.

Capt. Ennis Mond, head of Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s fire and loss prevention division, said smoke alarms in the rental home alerted residents to the fire that is believed to have started with an electrical device malfunction that caught a bed on fire downstairs.

“There was a bedroom and a heater and that’s what I suspect started that fire,” Mond said.

Two men who lived in the suite had gone out, Mond said. The fire started in one of the men’s bedrooms. Another resident discovered the fire when she was alerted by a smoke alarm.

“She went to look in the bedroom and saw the fire burning on the bed,” Mond said.

One man who was painting the upstairs of the house, which was under renovation, also ran into the basement to investigate what triggered the smoke alarm. He and the female tenant were treated at hospital for minor smoke inhalation and released, Mond said.

Fire damage was contained to the downstairs of the home.

None of the tenants had insurance. They were given three days’ assistance through the city’s emergency assistance program and have since found other lodging, Mond said.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED: Two people suffering from smoke inhalation have been taken to hospital after a fire at a residence on Howard Avenue in Nanaimo.

The fire was called in at about 3:30 p.m. Friday and firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the basement of a house on the 700 block of Howard Avenue, at Parkview Drive intersection.

Geoff Whiting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations, said three residents, two men and one woman, in the basement of the rental home were displaced due to heavy fire and smoke damage. The upper floor of the house was unoccupied.

“One man and one woman were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation,” Whiting said.

Crews at the scene said a nurse from Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and a nurse, either a student or instructor from Vancouver Island University, were among the first on scene. Along with other passersby they helped residents exit the house and assess the residents’ conditions.

Crews from fire stations 1, 2 and 4 responded to the scene, with B.C. Ambulance. B.C. Hydro crews were called in to cut power to the residence.

It appears the fire started in the basement of the house and Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officers are currently investigating the cause.

Whiting said there is serious fire damage to the basement of the house and likely heavy smoke damage throughout.

Howard Avenue 700 block was closed because of the fire operations.

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