Dozens of people without homes after fire destroys Abbotsford apartment building
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Dozens of people are now without a home after a massive fire ripped through an apartment building in Abbotsford overnight.
Crews were called to Delair Road around 1:30 Sunday morning.
“On arrival, they had fire rolling up one side of the building and the roof beginning to start involvement,” said Ron Hull, assistant fire chief with Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service. “Very shortly after that, we had fire rolling along the entire roof, helped along by the wind.”
Hull described flames shooting “20 or 30 feet in the air.” The blaze was so intense, it took every firefighter in Abbotsford to put it out.
So far, fire investigators have not determined what caused the fire, and there have been no reports of injuries.
Residents of nearly 60 units were evacuated onto the street in sub-zero temperatures, those living in the building opposite were also told to leave.
John Brackett lived on the top floor. He said he and his 8-year-old son were sleeping when his wife smelled smoke.
“She then proceeded to open up the door to the hallway and saw smoke billowing out of one of the suites,” he said. “It was the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Julie Bratkowski and Martin Fontaine were also on the top floor. They were woken up by the smoke alarm.
“Just jump out of bed and go,” Fontaine said. Bratkowski added that they managed to escape with only the clothes on their back.
“I have nothing,” she said. “Our whole place went up in flames. I don't even have my rings. Nothing.”
Residents of both buildings were taken to a church next door to warm up. Members of the Red Cross and Salvation Army organized McDonald’s and Tim Hortons runs for them and helped in making hotel arrangements.
On Sunday, fire crews were cautiously going through the building trying to find pets. They managed to retrieve five cats left behind, though Brackett added one of his was still missing.
Hull said the main building is so damaged that “no one will be going in again.” Those who have lost their homes will be staying in a hotel for a few nights, but will need to make other arrangements after that.
“We’ve had some friends reach out and whatnot, but my wife and I have to sit down and decide what we’re going to do,” Brackett said.
Fontaine said he and Bratkowski may live in an RV for a while.
All residents who spoke with CTV News say they’re thankful everyone is OK.
“When you think about what you had and you don’t have it anymore, but at least we have each other and that’s all that matters,” Bratkowski said.