VANCOUVER Fire and Rescue Services said on Thursday afternoon that they were still dealing with the aftermath of a third-alarm fire that started in the morning in the 300-block of Prior Street from an abandoned house.
Crews responded at approximately 5:55 a.m. to find three homes on fire, including one fully engulfed at the time of arrival. The incident was immediately upgraded to a third alarm, bringing 45 staff on scene to help control and contain the blaze.
The abandoned home that was “catastrophically damaged,” however, crews were able to enter and rescue occupants from two adjacent houses, one of which suffered considerable damage to the upper floor.
A fourth house was heavily involved with fire, but crews were unable to safely make entry due to apparent hoarding conditions inside. It was discovered the sole occupant had escaped with help from a neighbour, and the transition was made to an exterior, defensive attack in order to prevent further spread of the fire.
Both the abandoned house and the unsafe house are currently being demolished by heavy equipment while VF&RS teams cool and extinguish hot spots as they are uncovered.
This is Vancouver’s fifth vacant house fire of 2018, a significant drop from 19 in 2017, and 35 in 2016. Changes to Vancouver’s Fire Bylaw added stiff penalties for vacant home owners who fail to secure their premise against unlawful entry, which clearly coincides with the drop in fires.
Any resident who notices a vacant home that is not secured is asked to notify the City by calling 311.
VF&RS media spokesperson Jonathan Gormick said: “Our condolences to the families whose homes were affected by today’s incident, and we are proud of the quick action by first arriving teams that prevented any injuries or loss of life.”