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23 displaced in White Rock apartment fire

‘Complex investigation’ underway following May 24 blaze in 1400-block of Blackwood Street

Twenty-three residents remain displaced following a fire that burned inside the walls of a White Rock apartment building last week.

Fire Chief Ed Wolfe told White Rock council Monday (May 30) that four of 20 units at 1480 Blackwood St. suffered significant damage in a blaze that occurred the morning of May 24.

Twenty-eight firefighters and eight apparatus – including some from Surrey – were dispatched to the scene at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Wolfe said the source of the fire was “difficult to trace,” as it was electrical in nature and “actually went up an exterior wall… and there were no fire stops.”

“Crews were eventually able to get the upper hand,” Wolfe said.

“The entire building suffered electrical damage.”

Wolfe said a complex investigation is ongoing, involving Technical Safety BC, BC Hydro, a forensic electrical inspector “and multiple investigators representing many stakeholders.”

It is unknown when the building’s residents – who were all evacuated – will be able to return home, he said.

“It was quite complicated and the damage to the building overall is fairly significant.”

READ MORE: Crews rescue worker from construction crane in White Rock

READ MORE: Resident taken to hospital after White Rock apartment fire

Wolfe told Peace Arch News that a reception area was initially set up at Centennial Arena for the affected residents, but that most have been “able to come up with alternative arrangements,” either by staying with friends or family, or through private insurance.

Mayor Darryl Walker noted the blaze was “at least the third major incident” in the city in about the last month. On April 28, emergency crews effected a high-angle rescue after a crane operator suffered a medical emergency at a construction site at George Street and North Bluff Road.

There was also a fire on May 13 at an apartment in the 1300-block of Winter Street. In that incident, one resident was taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation, and many were temporarily sheltered at a nearby community centre.

Wolfe told PAN that the May 13 fire, as well as one a few weeks earlier at a Martin Street apartment, were both deemed accidental.

He did not have a timeline for when investigation into the Blackwood Street fire would conclude, but commended the actions of White Rock and Surrey firefighters in working seamlessly together to tackle the blaze.

He noted it was the first time since the massive fire in the Five Corners district in 2016 that the city has called on Surrey Fire Services for assistance with a fire.
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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