Fire destroyed an apartment building in the 1100 block of 7th Avenue in Castlegar early Saturday morning.
Castlegar Fire Department (CFD) was called to a vehicle fire at the site shortly after midnight on March 20. By the time they arrived, the vehicle, which was parked right next to the building and underneath an overhang, was fully engulfed and the fire was spreading to the building.
The fire continued to smoulder for more than nine hours and an excavator was eventually brought in to knock down the building.
All occupants of the four-unit complex were safely evacuated. Residents of an adjacent six-unit apartment building were also evacuated as a precaution.
Lattanzio says he does not suspect the fire is suspicious, but the investigation is ongoing.
The property is owned by brothers Tyler and Ryan Ricker. Tyler’s partner Callie Mitchell says there were five people living in the building.
The Red Cross will provide housing for the victims for the first few days after the incident, but efforts are being made to locate new homes. Due to a lack of supply in the city, especially of lower rent units, the process is proving difficult. If anyone has a unit for rent, they are asked to contact Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org as she is trying to coordinate the effort.
Mitchell said the most urgent need is to find a space for an older male tenant who had lived in the building for a long time.
Community donations have been coming in to help the victims get back on their feet. New Life Church is accepting donations on behalf of the victims as is Callie Mitchell.
Two other fires
Meanwhile, shortly after 5 a.m. a second fire call came in.
That fire turned out to be a burning blanket on the bike racks at Kootenay Savings Credit Union on 20th Street.
Lattanzio suspects a homeless person may have been sleeping there when the blanket caught fire.
The third fire call came in at 6:20 a.m. It was located on the property behind the Chevron in the 1900 block of Columbia Avenue.
Lattanzio said when they arrived on scene, a homeless camp was on fire. The fire had spread to a tent, camping equipment and other materials.
All of CFD’s units — four fire trucks and two command vehicles — responded to the fires, as well as fifteen firefighters.