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Update - Fire engulfs apartment building in central Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Fire investigators confirm cause of apartment fire that displaced Fifteen residents Thursday.
Two people look on as Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews work to extinguish a fire at an apartment on Holly Avenue on Thursday afternoon. The fire resulted in the displacement of roughly a dozen residents.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue has confirmed the cause of a fire that displaced residents from a Nanaimo apartment building Thursday.

At approximately 12:15 p.m., Nanaimo Fire Rescue was called to an apartment complex at the 400 block of Holly Avenue, near Townsite Road, after receiving calls about a structure fire.

When crews arrived on scene they were greeted with a large fire that had engulfed a portion of the two-story apartment building.

According to Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant fire chief Timothy Doyle, the fire forced roughly a dozen residents to flee the apartment building.

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“All the residents made it out safe,” said Doyle. “We are making arrangements for them.”

Alan Millbank, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, confirmed Friday that the fire was caused by unattended cooking.

Clifford Thomas, who was staying at one of the units inside the building, said he was cooking hot dogs on a stove when a fire suddenly began.

“There was just a little flame and I tried putting it out with water and that made it worse,” Thomas said at the scene Thursday.

Thomas said the flames eventually became larger and forced him outside of his unit. He said that he tried running back into the building to look for a family member he believed was inside.

“I couldn’t even see myself because of the black smoke,” he said. “People were just telling me to stay out.”No one was inside the unit when Thomas returned. He said he is glad everyone in the apartment building was able to safely escape.

“I am just glad nobody was in there,” he said.

Millbank said some of the residents in the building had fire insurance and some did not. All residents were assisted by Nanaimo Emergency Social Services.