Two dozen firefighters battled a blaze for more than six hours to bring it under control near downtown Nanaimo on Thanksgiving Day.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, to a fire that started in a warehouse in the 300 block of Selby Street, and crews were met with smoke billowing from the structure when they arrived.
“There was heavy smoke showing when Engine 1 arrived on scene and they took command,” said Troy Libbus, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief. “We started an exterior attack, moving to interior, and then it was noticed that there was a little bit of a ceiling collapse in there, so we pulled everyone out and we went exterior.”
Libbus said there was difficulty in locating the seat of the fire, which had worked its way into the structural portions of the building’s walls and roof and kept migrating through those spaces.
As firefighters continued to attack the fire from outside the building, extra manpower had to be called in to relieve the firefighters already on scene. In all, six fire engines and 24 firefighters worked the fire until about 11:30 p.m.
Eventually an aerial ladder truck with a piercing nozzle was used to attack the fire by blasting water through the roof and into the attic spaces, which helped crews get the upper hand on the blaze.
“After an extended period of time with the exterior attack … it possibly looked like it was just smouldering a little bit, so we stood back and waited a bit to see if any more smoke was going to rekindle this fire and it didn’t, so we sent an attack team in again to try and knock down and locate the fire,” Libbus said.
At that point, firefighters were able to knock down hot spots in the building and brought the fire under control.
Libbus said the fire may have started in the rear interior of the building, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigators will try to determine where the fire started in the building and what sparked it.
The assistant chief said Nanaimo Fire Rescue made social media posts warning about heavy smoke in the area, told residents of neighbouring apartment buildings to shut their windows and had city workers place sandbags to divert water used to fight the fire from flooding into the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music building next door.
No injuries were reported and the building has been boarded up and security put in place to secure the structure.