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NSEM to work with province on long-term plans for residents displaced by fires

A string of fires, including a second-alarm blaze in North Vancouver last week, have left dozens in the care of emergency support services
Firefighters from all North Shore municipalities were on scene at the International Plaza on the morning of Dec. 27 in response to a fire. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Residents from 26 units in a North Vancouver apartment building remain displaced after a fire tore through a third-storey flat and sent two to hospital in critical condition.

Due to the significant damage in the unit at the heart of the Dec. 27 blaze, being able to clearly identify the cause – other than it being accidental – will likely remain undetermined at this time, said fire Chief Brian Hutchinson of District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

“We’ve completed the majority of our investigation,” he said. “There was a high fire load in the unit, there was significant fire damage within the unit itself – we’re able to determine that the fire did begin in the bedroom area.”

On the two residents who were sent to hospital, Hutchinson said that the last word he got was that they were stable but still in intensive care.

The International Plaza incident is the latest in a string of fires that have left dozens of North Vancouver residents displaced from their homes.

People from all 26 affected units in the tower will have extensions for emergency support services until Jan. 16, said Emily Dicken, director for North Shore Emergency Management.

“Because of the magnitude of all of the structure fires on the North Shore, NSEM will be meeting with Emergency Management BC to explore long-term recovery plans and what it looks like to work with BC Housing and other community service providers to look at rehousing everyone,” she said.

An extension for residents displaced in the Lord Highland fire on 12th Street in Central Lonsdale has been green lit as well, and Dicken said NSEM is working with the province to understand how to equitably support others who have been displaced. Given the extensive damage to some of the International Plaza units, Hutchinson said he understood it will be a significant period of time before some residents can return.

“I hope that by this Thursday or Friday, we have a better understanding of what a longer-term recovery plan looks like,” Dicken said.

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