Fire Fighting in Canada

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B.C. man killed in Christmas Day blaze

Dec. 25, 2010, Esquimalt, B.C. – Dozens of seniors were out of their homes on Christmas Day after a blaze that killed a 60-year-old man in an affordable housing complex on Vancouver Island.

December 29, 2010
By The Canadian Press

Dec. 25, 2010, Esquimalt, B.C. – Dozens of seniors were out of their homes on Christmas Day after a blaze that killed a 60-year-old man in an affordable housing complex on Vancouver Island.

Fire investigators said flames broke out in an apartment on the fifth floor of the Esquimalt complex about 6:20 p.m. on Friday.

"A number of brave occupants on the fifth floor forced their way into the suite that was involved," said Acting Assistant Fire Chief Vince Greensill. "(They) knocked down the fire with an in-house hose and dragged the lone occupant out of the suite into the hallway."

An arriving fire crew attended to the man, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

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Residents were evacuated and immediately put onto city buses. About 20 were put up in a Victoria hotel with the help of emergency social services, while others went to stay with family and friends.

Several of the residents who tried to help the man went to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.

About half the residents living in the building's 52 units were permitted to return by about 2 p.m. Saturday. Greensill said it's not clear when the remainder will be let back into their suites.

"Our main objective now is to get people back into their apartments for the Christmas holidays,'' he said.

The fire is not considered suspicious. Earlier media reports said it may have been ignited by a cigarette, but Greensill couldn't yet confirm the cause.

He said heavy water damage and other destruction, mainly limited to the fifth floor, was preventing residents from returning home.

The building, erected in 1991, is operated by the Greater Victoria Housing Society and mostly limited to people over the age of 55.

Victoria Police and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating.