Tenants displaced by Burnaby blaze stuck sleeping at rec centre

Fifteen residents of a Burnaby apartment building that went up in flames early Sunday morning will likely spend a third night on cots in a banquet hall of the local recreation centre tonight (Tuesday).

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The fire started in a suite on the second floor of a 40-unit lowrise apartment at 6577 Royal Oak Ave.

The Burnaby Fire Department got the call at about 5:30 a.m.

Flames and black smoke were coming from a unit on the second floor when they arrived.

Assistant fire Chief Gavin Summers said firefighters knocked down the three-alarm blaze pretty quickly, but two units sustained fire damage.

The ground-floor apartment underneath also sustained significant water damage, according to building manager Christian Cubela.

The three most-damaged units will take between four and six months to repair, he told the NOW.

As for the rest, Cubela hopes to get the tenants back into them as soon as possible, but he’s still waiting for a report from the city’s building department 

“We’re checking if the hallways are still safe,” he said.

The building has been given the green light in terms of air quality, Cubela said, but that might just be because of industrial fans currently running throughout the building.

emergency social services
A notice outside of the Bonsor Recreation Centre banquet hall, where tenants of a local apartment building have spent two nights since a fire. - Cornelia Naylor

“We need to make sure that the tenants are safe,” he said.

Cubela said he hoped to provide an update to tenants by 5 p.m. today.

Thirty-five people evacuated from the building registered with emergency social services, according to emergency management co-ordinator Charmaigne Pflugrath.

Fifteen of those were provided “group lodging.”

(The NOW has learned they’ve been housed overnight on cots in the banquet hall of the Bonsor Recreation Centre.)

Bonsor Recreation banquet hall
Tenants of a Metrotown apartment building that caught fire Sunday morning have spent two nights sleeping on cots at the Bonsor Rec Centre banquet hall. - Cornelia Naylor

“Long-term supports for those that require such are being arranged with the impacted persons,” she said in an emailed statement.

Pflugrath said the incident was a “good reminder to people who are renters of the importance of contents and tenants insurance.”

“It also highlights the importance of everyone having a family emergency plan and being personally prepared for any emergency,” she said.

For information on emergency preparedness, visit www.burnaby.ca/getprepared.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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