One resident has died in a fire at a Lynn Valley seniors housing complex, North Vancouver RCMP have confirmed, and scores of seniors have been displaced from their homes.
District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services crews were called to the Silverlynn Apartments on East 27th Street just after 6 a.m. Tuesday (May 31), after reports of smoke and flames from two third-floor units.
“Despite the heroic efforts of firefighters and other first responders, we are sadly now in the early stages of an investigation, in partnership with BC Coroners Service, into the death of one person,” said Sgt. Peter DeVries, North Vancouver RCMP spokesperson in a statement.
As of Tuesday afternoon, North Vancouver RCMP were investigating the death to determine if any criminality was involved. Fire investigators had also arrived support to the RCMP and begin work on determining the cause of the fatal blaze.
The building has 82 units subsidized by BC Housing, 71 of which were occupied at the time, said assistant fire chief Wayne Kennedy.
“Obviously, we had a lot of people and occupants that we had to deal with in terms of evacuating them out of the building, so a lot of our manpower was dealing with moving people to a safer location while other crews dealt with the fire in the two units,” he said.
It’s not clear yet how long the residents will be out of their homes. Firefighters and insurance professionals will need to investigate the rest of the structure before it is known what repairs are required and when it will be safe for residents to move back in.
“We have extensive damage to one, if not both of the units that were involved in the fire and then obviously, we're going to have some smoke damage to any of the units that are close in vicinity, and some water damage below,” he said. “Right now, we have emergency services on scene that are doing a great job dealing with all the displaced occupants.”
Emergency support services provides 72 hours of temporary accommodations, clothing and food for people displaced by disasters.
North Vancouver RCMP’s Crisis Intervention Team has also been called to the scene to provide support.
“This is truly a tragedy,” said DeVries. “Thankfully, this community has excellent supports in place to take care of those affected by this fire. But our hearts go out today especially to the family and friends of the person who lost their life.”
No details about the victim were released on Tuesday, while the RCMP were notifying family members.
The 1979 building is owned and run by the non-profit Lowland Senior Citizens’ Housing Society.
In 2021, residents in the building went public with complaints about it becoming dilapidated and unsafe. BC Housing later provided funding for renovations, some of which had already begun.
North Vancouver-Seymour NDP MLA Susie Chant said she had been keeping in touch with the residents of the building to see that the work was being carried out.
“I am very sad,” she said. “Certainly our condolences go to the friends and family of the deceased…There's quite a strong community in there and other people will be distressed. We'll see if there's anything we can do to help.”
BC Housing did not respond to a request for comment by the North Shore News' deadline Tuesday.