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One dead after fire in small Port Alberni low-income apartment building

Trailers in adjacent lot also evacuated; unknown number of people displaced

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.

READ: Another trailer destroyed by fire at Port Alberni’s Wintergreen Apartments

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.

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A firefighter hoses down the side of a house beside the Wintergreen Apartments to keep the house from catching fire in the 3600-block of Fourth Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, 2023. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
The Port Alberni Fire Department uses the aerial ladder to fight a fire in the multi-storey Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue near midnight on Thursday, May 18, 2023. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
A fire burns through a top floor unit of Wintergreen Apartments around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18 2023. Multiple fire departments battled the blaze. Trailers in the lot beside the apartment were evacuated by emergency personnel. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

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Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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