The investigation into the massive fire at the Paddington Station condos in Langley City began Tuesday morning.
It was the first day after Sunday’s fire that investigators could safely access the area where the fire is thought to have begun, said City fire chief Rory Thompson.
A structural engineer had to sign off on the stability of the structure first, Thompson said.
Fire investigators will be looking at initial reports and speaking to witnesses as well as looking at physical evidence.
The initial reports were that the fire began on a fourth-floor balcony, but that hasn’t yet been confirmed, Thompson said.
The chief commented on the lack of sprinklers on the fourth floor balconies and in the attic space.
“I think it’s a significant issue,” Thompson said. “We regularly, three to four times a year, respond to fires on balconies.”
The fire spread from the balcony into the roof and then moved sideways through the building, causing serious damage to the top floor.
If the building code required sprinklers in attics and upper balconies, Thompson believes “it would be a different story today.”
Also on Tuesday, residents of the first through third floors begin escorted visits back to their units to grab essential items. They will go in one unit at a time.
A 10 a.m. meeting is being held specifically for residents who don’t have contents insurance.
Local civic and social service agencies, including the Red Cross, will be working with them, said Thompson.
They will be trying to make sure that those on social assistance stay connected with government resources, and determining what other forms of help are needed and available.