Renters displaced by Duncan apartment fire reminded of 2014 blaze
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, June 4, 2018 6:20PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 4, 2018 6:44PM PDT
A Duncan apartment complex where a fire broke out Sunday, leaving more than 100 people without a home, is under the microscope again after a similar fire in 2014.
Flames broke out at Parkland Place Apartments around 11 a.m. Sunday, gutting several floors of the building and sending 13 people, including a child, to hospital for smoke inhalation.
Crews arrived to find flames shooting from the building and smoke pouring out of lower floors.
"It's a traumatic experience for people and we do have some counselling on site for those severely affected," said John Elzinga, General Manager of Community Services for the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
While the fire was eventually extinguished, the entire building has been deemed uninhabitable.
"It was a hot, quick-moving fire that took a lot of work to get under control because it was on multiple floors," Duncan Fire Chief Mike McKinley said.
But for the more than 100 tenants of the building, it was the worst kind of déjà vu.
"I was in the last fire there, and I lost everything that time. Everything," said tenant Dianne Johnson, who was displaced by a fire at the same building in 2014.
No one was hurt in that blaze, but everybody in the building was placed in the same makeshift shelter that was opened after Sunday's fire.
Some tenants say the building has not been safe ever since that fire four years ago, but with the cause still under investigation, firefighters are unable to place any blame.
"This building is a death trap." said former tenant Catherine Perrin. "Nothing ever gets fixed. They made the apartments look nice, but the building is a death trap. It's a slum."
Firefighters have entered some of the units considered to be safe to retrieve personal items and medications for displaced renters.
For now, about 80 of the tenants are staying in the emergency shelter, which will remain open for the next two days.
If the building isn't deemed habitable by then, organizations such as Red Cross will step in to house those who cannot stay with family or friends.