Hundreds left homeless after massive Langley condo fire
Published Sunday, December 11, 2016 11:59AM PST
Last Updated Sunday, December 11, 2016 7:01PM PST
Firefighters battled a massive three-alarm blaze at a Langley, B.C. condo for more than eight hours on Sunday.
The fire began around 10 a.m. near 56th and 201A Street at the Paddington Station complex.
Smoke could be seen billowing into the air, as massive flames devoured the entire building.
Firefighters say the blaze started on a fourth floor balcony and spread to the attic, rapidly moving from unit to unit and consuming the building’s roof from the inside.
"When we do have a fire that starts on the balcony it can quickly spread into the attic... and once it's in the attic it can be a real challenge,” said City of Langley Fire Chief Rory Thompson.
As the fire moved through the building ceilings in the fourth floor units began to collapse, forcing firefighters to use a ladder to pluck an elderly man from a balcony.
“We got the person out just in the nick of time,” added Thompson.
No one was seriously injured in the blaze, but two firefighters were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation along with the elderly man.
Hundreds of people were out of their homes Sunday night, and more than 80 units were damaged from smoke, fire, or water. The condo’s top floor units were completely destroyed.
Mounties said comfort buses were deployed for residents who were left waiting outside.
The Langley Emergency Program set up a reception centre at Douglas Recreation Centre. Emergency Social Services and Langley RCMP Client Support and Victim Services were also called in to help.
Most residents say they escaped with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
“It hasn’t completely sunk in yet, and when it does it’s really going to get me,” said resident Brittany Shapitka, crying. “It’s hard. It sucks.”
"Everything is gone, my house was on fire,” said Megan Young. “I was watching them spray a hose right into my house. I just finished Christmas shopping for my daughter. It's all gone.”
A neighbouring building was also evacuated when smoke began to enter it.
Numerous roads were closed well into the afternoon, including 201A Street between Fraser Highway and 56 Avenue.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, and an investigation is ongoing.