Fire forces evacuation of Victoria hotel purchased to house homeless
Published Sunday, May 24, 2020 3:27PM PDT
Firefighters were called to a Victoria hotel early Sunday morning for reports of a fire in one of the rooms currently housing people who were relocated from tent cities in Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue.
VANCOUVER -- Firefighters were called to a Victoria hotel early Sunday morning for reports of a fire in one of the rooms currently housing people who were relocated from tent cities in Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue.
The incident set off the fire alarms and sprinkler system at the Comfort Inn on Blanshard Street, which BC Housing purchased to provide accommodation for the homeless during COVID-19.
Fire crews told CTV News Vancouver Island something did burn in one of the rooms Sunday, but it's unclear exactly what happened.
The hotel was evacuated as a result of the incident, but no one will be spending the night outdoors, said Grant McKenzie, communications coordinator for Our Place Society, the Victoria nonprofit that is helping to manage the hotel.
"They'll all be getting moved back into their rooms," he said.
The Victoria Fire Department says the fire is still under investigation, but McKenzie characterized the incident as minor.
"Sometimes these things happen as we adjust," he said. "It's nothing that was anything deliberate or anything like that. It was an accident that set off the sprinklers, so we're not really looking at it as a serious incident. It's unfortunate, but it's not a serious incident."
In general, McKenzie said, the 93 people Our Place has moved into the Comfort Inn have been adjusting well. They're growing more comfortable having their own rooms and bathrooms, and Our Place staff are excited to work one-on-one with them to improve their situations, he said.
"You just feel that anxiety deflate; it's quite amazing," McKenzie said. "That's really what we want, is for this population to get settled, feel secure, and we can build that trust with them one-on-one."