Man dies in Victoria apartment fire
A man is dead after an apartment fire Monday morning in the James Bay neighbourhood of Victoria.
The Victoria Fire Department received several 911 calls about the fire in a top-floor unit of the Village Green Apartments at 118 Menzies Street.
A tenant living below the unit that caught fire says she was jolted awake by a loud noise, heard yelling and ran from her suite around 8 a.m.
"I heard a bad, bad, bad noise," says Sofia Boulede. "I’m afraid because I don’t know what’s happened."
Victoria police say detectives with the major crime unit are investigating, however the fire is not believed to be criminal.
"We’re treating the [cause of the] fire as unknown at this time," said acting fire chief Dan Atkinson.
The building sustained significant damage but no other injuries were reported, police said.
THOUGHT IT WAS A TEST
Two tenants tell CTV News the apartment complex was supposed to have a fire alarm test Monday, and initially the residents thought they could ignore the alarms when they started to sound.
"I went back to sleep and then all of a sudden somebody is banging on the door and telling us to get out," says resident Cheryl Rinehert.
A mother named Danyelle had a similar reaction, but her daughter saw the smoke and flames outside.
"I ran outside and it was literally bellowing from the apartment," she says. "I couldn’t believe it. I thought, 'Those are our neighbours and people’s homes just gone in an instant.'"
Atkinson said six to eight units were likely damaged in the blaze and ensuing response.
"Given the fire load and the amount of water required to put the fire out, I would suspect the water and smoke damage will extend into multiple suites," the acting fire chief said.
Boulede and her husband are temporary residents from Morocco who’ve been living at the complex since the start of the year.
She says she’s most worried about the survival of the government documents supporting their residency.
Many people in the neighbourhood stopped to watch firefighters work, expressing their concern.
Firefighters were seen entering the building with axes and a chainsaw. Later, firefighters were cutting through the building’s roof with the saw.
"It’s kind of scary because so many families live in that complex," says community member Jim Hill.
Another tenant of the Village Green Apartments says she was terrified.
"I’m in the building right next door," she said. "It’s really windy today so I wasn’t sure if it was going to spread over to our building."
Atkinson says the fire had been burning for a while before crews were alerted to the scene – and that a lot of stuff inside the unit of origin made the fight to suppress the flames challenging.