One person is dead after a fire broke out in an upper level unit of an apartment in the 3600-block of Fourth Avenue in Port Alberni around 11 p.m. Thursday, May 18, 2023.
Firefighters from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek and Sproat Lake fire departments were still battling the blaze after midnight. The fire left an unknown number of people displaced. A group of more than a dozen derelict trailers in a lot beside the apartment were also evacuated.
The identity of the individual is not being released pending further investigation.
Emergency Social Services were on scene before midnight, trying to find accommodation for some of the people living in the apartment and trailers. Outreach workers and RCMP members familiar with residents who live in the apartment and trailers were canvassing the neighbourhoods to account for people.
Caden Thingvold and Jonah Clark had been playing some nighttime disc golf at one of the Dry Creek Park holes under a streetlight on Fourth Avenue when they heard screams coming from down the block.
“We heard a couple of screams and knew something was off…we looked and it just lit up,” Thingvold said. “We heard screaming at 11 p.m.”
“We started walking over (to the building) while we were calling 911,” Clark said.
“We heard people yelling, ‘respond, respond! We have to get out of here,’” Thingvold added.
“That hits close to home for me because I deal with this stuff day in and day out with my job,” working with a post-flood and fire restoration company, he said.
“We thank the community for their understanding and patience as we continue to work on this investigation,” fire Chief Mike Owens said in a press release from the City of Port Alberni.
This is a developing story. More details will be added as they become available.