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Blaze leaves nine families homeless

Suite where the fire started did not have a functioning smoke alarm, Fire Service

A two-alarm blaze in a Whalley apartment had one person take to hospital and the residents of nine suites rendered homeless.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at 13265 104 Avenue Thursday at just before 10:30 p.m. and quickly found the flames licking up the side of the building to the suite above.

It's believed the fire started in one of the bedrooms from someone smoking, firefighters say.

By 11 p.m. fire crews had the blaze extinguished, but two apartments were burned out, and another seven experienced smoke and water damage.

One person was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and is expected to be okay.

The occupants of those nine suites were taken to Emergency Social Service and relocated. It's expected a decision will be made some time Friday as to how many will be allowed back into the building.

There was no functioning smoke alarm in the original unit, according to Surrey's Deputy Chief Jon Caviglia.

"There was somebody in that suite, but by the time they realized there was a problem, it was already to big for them to deal with," Caviglia said.

The alarms serve as a crucial early warning system, recent studies show.

"The biggest thing that people can do to protect themselves and their families is to have a working smoke alarm in their residence," Caviglia said. "Surrey Fire Service is willing to do a free home safety inspection and provide a smoke alarm for anyone that doesn't have one."