Heavy smoke took over an hour to extinguish after a fire ripped through an Esquimalt apartment building Sunday afternoon. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Esquimalt apartment fire caused by human error

The fatal fire started in the victim’s unit

The exact cause of Sunday’s fatal fire on Craigflower Road is still under investigation, but the Esquimalt Fire Department has determined it was not set intentionally.

“It does appear to be accidental, some kind of human activity that caused the fire,” said Fire Chief Chris Jancowski, who noted that final details will be coming out in a report. “It started in a fourth floor unit in the north-east corner.”

This was the same unit where the only victim, Judith Rose Burke, lived. Burke was seen trapped on her balcony as neighbours tried to coax her down by holding blankets, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

ALSO READ: One woman confirmed dead following Esquimalt fire

“In this case, the fire developed quite well inside the unit before flames were seen outside,” Jancowski said. “The amount of build up really prevented people from leaving from the fourth floor, forcing them onto the balcony.”

The Esquimalt Fire Department, CFB Esquimalt Fire Department, the Victoria Fire Department and the View Royal Fire Rescue attended the scene, using ladder rescue techniques to assist the rest of the people trapped on the balconies.

Some people received minor cuts on their wrists and legs from the ladders, and one firefighter from the Esquimalt Fire Department sustained a shoulder injury.

Most of the building was not burned.

“Most of the fire damage was confined to that unit and hallway, with water damage affecting the first, second and third floor,” Jancowski said.

ALSO READ: Fund launched for victims of fatal Esquimalt apartment fire

Jancowski said that a major problem with the building was that it had no fire sprinklers installed.

“Buildings of that vintage, from the 1960s and ‘70s, didn’t have sprinklers because it wasn’t part of the building code,” Jancowski explained. “Luckily, it did have a fire alarm system that worked very well.”

Currently, Belmont Properties is assessing the extent of the damage. Tenants are not able to return to their units at this time.

After the fire was controlled, firefighters entered the building to retrieve vital medications. Firefighters also searched units for pets and found several fish and cats who were unharmed and okay to stay in the units at the time. Firefighters fed the pets and took note of their locations.

Building residents will likely be able to re-enter the building on Friday or Saturday to retrieve possessions. It’s unknown if or when they will be able to return to live in their units.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Gate at Mount Douglas Park smashed on Wednesday night

It is suspected that a motorist drove through after being locked in after 11 p.m.

MISSING: Victoria police looking for ‘high-risk’ missing woman Clarissa Adamick

Adamick was last seen on July 12 and may be in the downtown Victoria area

Greater Victoria to see all 10 of the electric buses announced by federal-provincial governments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $79 million in joint funding for 118 new buses across B.C.

Canadians may experience EpiPen shortage, says Health Canada

The EpiPen Jr is not affected by this shortage

New home in Saanich for adults with disabilities moves closer to fruition

Anonymous donor steps up with $1 million donation during fundraising campaign

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read