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Fire at Nanaimo, B.C., supportive housing displaced more than 50 people

The Canadian Press

NANAIMO — More than 50 people from a supportive-housing complex in Nanaimo, B.C., have been displaced after a fire in a mattress that was started by a cigarette.

Troy Libbus, Nanaimo Fire Rescue's assistant chief, says their crew responded to an alarm Sunday at Samaritan Place, a supportive-housing complex that has 51 units.

He says no one was hurt, as firefighters were able to fight the blaze and evacuate residents at the same time, thanks to the building’s sprinkler system that helped suppress the fire.

Libbus says a resident of the building later admitted to police that they were smoking in their room and the mattress caught fire.

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Corrie Corfield with the Island Crisis Care Society, which operates the complex, says they brought in food and clothing for the residents because many of them left with nothing more than the pyjamas they were wearing.

Corfield says they have found temporary housing for most of the 57 people who were forced out, including placing 10 people who have mobility or health issues in a motel.

“So, that's one of the challenges in this whole situation, is a lot of the people who rely on that building and who live there have significant health challenges, and maybe seniors, or (they) may be coping with all sorts of health situations,” said Corfield.

She says all systems are back up in the building and they'll be able to move some residents back to their units on the building's fourth floor, which was not damaged by fire or water.

“It was a challenging day, but everyone really banded together and had a good attitude about things,” Corfield said of Sunday's fire.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press