A destructive blaze possibly caused by an improperly extinguished cigarette on a condo deck in Central Lonsdale early Sunday morning has displaced 65 residents.
Just before 5 a.m., multiple 911 callers reported flames coming from a third-floor balcony on the back side of a low-rise building at 1468 St. Andrews Ave.
Fire crews from the city and one from North Vancouver district were dispatched to the two-alarm blaze, which saw 35 firefighters on the scene.
“There was heavy fire on a deck that was extending up into the attic space,” said City of North Vancouver fire Chief Dan Pistilli.
Crews began knocking the fire down from the back of the building, followed by an interior attack in the attic area. Pistilli estimated it took about an hour for crews to get the fire under control.
None of the building's residents required medical treatment, said Pistilli.
Police and North Shore Emergency Management officials were also on hand to assist the displaced residents – a mix of seniors, families, single adults and middle-aged couples – muster inside the gym at nearby Lions Gate Hospital.
“They will be out for months,” said Pistilli. “There’s a lot of water damage through all three floors.”
Fire investigators are focusing on an unextinguished cigarette on a third-floor deck as a possible cause of the blaze in the 10-year-old building which is not outfitted with patio sprinklers.
New buildings being constructed within the city, said Pistilli, are now required to have a sprinkler system on patios and in the attics.
The heavily damaged suite where the fire originated was occupied by the owner, who has insurance, according to the city’s assistant fire chief and prevention officer David Owens.
Two adjacent units also sustained fire damage, while the rest of the condos in the 35-unit Avondale on St. Andrews building received extensive water damage.
Emergency management officials were back at the scene of the fire Monday morning, helping the displaced residents – a mix of renters and owners – retrieve medication and valuables.
Some of the 65 evacuees are receiving Emergency Support Services, including 72 hours of hotel accommodation, vouchers for meals, clothing and incidentals. Other residents have access to that support through their insurance providers, said Fiona Dercole, director of North Shore Emergency Management.
“We are aware of three units that did not have insurance,” added Dercole. “Those residents have been connected with Emergency Support Services.”