VIDEO: Woman found dead after Lower Mainland apartment fire

Crews were called to the blaze late Wednesday night on Countess Street

A woman in her 60s succumbed to her injuries caused by a large, fast-moving apartment fire on Countess Street in Abbotsford in the early hours of Thursday.

The blaze was called in to emergency services at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with crews battling the blaze well into Thursday morning.

“When the guys arrived on scene, they found fire extending through the roof, through the units, as well as a number of people on their balconies, so they initially deployed lines to control the fire while they rescued people off the balcony,” assistant fire chief Jeff Snider said at a media availability at Fire Hall #1 Thursday morning.

“[It was] very complicated. Difficult conditions, icy, third-floor, a lot of people that haven’t been on ladders before, and now you’re taking them out in the middle of the night in fire conditions in the ice, so very difficult. Very challenging; guys did a good job.”

Snider said the majority of the eight people stranded on balconies were on the third floor, as that was where the major smoke hazard from the fire was. Crews then searched inside the building and found four more individuals needing assistance evacuating the blaze.

“There was a lot of smoke and definitely extensive fire within those central units,” Snider said of entering the building, adding that “it’s never safe” for firefighters entering a burning building.

“We make it as safe as we can, considering the circumstances. It’s a risk/benefit management that we do, and we decided that it was worth the risk to get in there and stop [the fire] on the interior side.”

Three tenants went to hospital in the first 10 minutes of the fire response with minor injuries and smoke inhalation.

Tragically, upon entering on a secondary search, an elderly woman was found in her unit to be suffering serious injuries and died after paramedics attended to her.

Fire crews were expected to be on scene for much of Thursday, searching for hot spots to extinguish and assisting the B.C. Coroners Service, fire inspector and Abbotsford Police Department investigations.

B.C. Coroners spokesperson Andy Watson said the investigation is still in “very early stages.”

Snider said there was “pretty extensive” damage to the third floor of the 2400-block Countess Street apartment building, along with smoke and water damage on lower floors. He couldn’t comment on the fire protection in the building, such as fire alarms, but noted that the older building had been recently renovated.

Snider said Emergency Support Services was activated for residents of the building, and would likely run for at least a few days, offering shelter and necessities. He said it would likely be days before any residents would be able to return home.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Submissions sought for Boswell Beginnings and Beyond

A new edition is planned fo an an out-of-print Kootenay Lake history book

Hwy 3 to close for avalanche control on Jan. 19

The road is expected to be closed from noon to 3 p.m.

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Nelson Leafs lose to Dynamiters 4-3 in overtime

The game got off to a bizarre start early in the first period

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read