Sixty-six seniors have been displaced from their homes following a large fire that broke out at the Lions Manor seniors housing complex in Deep Cove Tuesday afternoon.
Seniors who live in the 60-unit housing complex were evacuated Tuesday afternoon and taken to an emergency reception centre at Parkgate Community Centre. About 20 seniors, some of whom have mobility challenges, were given a temporary place to sleep at a local community centre, as all hotel rooms in the area are booked. The remainder stayed with family and friends.
The North Shore Emergency Management office is now working to connect those people with accommodation and coordinating offers of assistance.
Everyone was safely evacuated after the fire quickly spread through the building at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Eight people - including some who raced to the scene to make sure the seniors got out - were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.
Nearby residents and witnesses said the fire appears to have started on the top floor of the complex, although there is no official word on where or how the fire broke out.
Stephanie Alexandra, who lives in the Lions complex, said she was home in her apartment unit on the fourth floor when the fire alarm went off Tuesday afternoon. Alexandra said she looked out into the hallway and saw the manager knocking on doors, telling people to get out. When the manager opened the door to an apartment across the hall from her, where one of her neighbours was away, “black smoke came billowing out immediately,” she said.
Alexandra said she grabbed her purse, keys and camera and ran out of her apartment, forgetting to even put shoes on, before running down the stairs to the first floor where she continued to knock on doors, yelling “Fire! Get out!”
Alexandra said it wasn’t until she got outside that she realized how serious the situation was. “Fire engulfed the apartment quickly as the fire trucks arrived,” she said.
Alexandra said she saw two women who live in the complex get rescued from their balconies.
Fire crews quickly got hoses on to the blaze but it took some time to get it under control, she said.
Firefighters with 14 fire trucks remained at the scene late Tuesday.
Jen McCarthy, owner of the Blue House Café in Deep Cove, said she counted seven or eight fire trucks race by.
Air quality in Deep Cove was affected by the the smoke from the fire on Tuesday.
The North Shore’s Emergency Management Office issued an alert about 3 p.m., warning area residents to shut their doors and windows because of the air quality.
Jan Overby, the “unofficial mayor” of Deep Cove, said “a lot of the neighbours ran over to assist right away as soon as they saw the smoke. The neighbours have helped the neighbours.”
That continued Tuesday evening, with area residents stopping by to offer help at Parkgate Community Centre, where the displaced seniors were registered and connected with available resources.
A meeting for evacuees is scheduled for today for those directly affected by the fire.
Alexandra said late Tuesday she was counting her blessings. "Pretty sure I've lost everything in my suite but glad it didn't happen at night when I don't wear my hearing aid and would not have heard anything," she said.
She admitted she's worried, however, about "what happens next."
Anyone interested in making donations or offering help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call co-ordinators with the Emergency Management Office at 604-990-2444.
Due to a major structure fir in #DeepCove the air quality is extremely poor. Please shut all doors and windows and remain indoors if possible if you are in the area. Further updates to come.— North Shore EM (@NorthShoreEMO) July 24, 2018
more to come...