No one was injured but at least a dozen Lower Lonsdale residents are out of their homes after a fire Monday afternoon.
North Vancouver City Fire Department got the dispatch around 1:45 p.m., alerting them to a fire that started in the bathroom of a first-floor suite and travelled up inside the walls into the second and third floors of the threestorey walk-up at 321 East Second St.
"We called a second alarm and had additional units come in. It was a really aggressive attack," said fire chief Dan Pistilli.
Six suites were badly damaged and power and gas had been shut off for the remaining 30 in the rental building, displacing more than 50 residents.
"Six will definitely be uninhabitable for an extended period of time while the suites are repaired," Pistilli said.
Residents who were home at the time were bussed to North Shore Neighbourhood House while authorities figured out the extent of the damage to the rest of the building. Emergency Social Services pays for fire victims to stay in a hotel for up to three nights following a fire. On Tuesday, Pistilli said the aim was to have electrical repairs done and most of the residents back home by Wednesday.
The fire started when a plumber was working on a first-floor suite's bathtub and accidentally lit the paperback insulation on fire, Pistilli said.
"He dampened the area down as he usually does, but it doesn't take much to get that paperback going," he said.
What likely prevented the fire from spreading faster was early detection courtesy of the building's upgraded life safety alarm system, Pistilli said. Every multi-unit residential building built prior to 1992 is required to upgrade to the system, which provides individual smoke and heat detection and alarms in each unit, and automatically alerts the fire department when one is triggered. About two-thirds of the city's older woodframe residential buildings have done the work ahead of the 2015 deadline.
"It's very, very important," Pistilli said after the fire. "It made a big difference today."