Three departments responded to a structure fire in the 2600-block of Richmond Road early Friday morning. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

UPDATED: One person dead and two in hospital after morning apartment fire in Saanich

Residents were evacuated shortly after 4 a.m. Friday

Saanich Fire Department has confirmed one person died in an early morning fire Friday.

A resident was found unresponsive in the hallway of an apartment complex and later succumbed to injuries. Two other residents were taken to hospital with unconfirmed injuries and officials are unable to confirm the number of residents affected at this time.

According to Saanich Det. Sgt. Damian Kowalewich, the deceased is a woman in her 60s.

Saanich Police Detectives and the BC Coroner’s Service are investigating the death of the woman found inside the building by Saanich Fire members during their initial suppression efforts. The circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation.

Several residents had to be rescued from their fourth-floor balconies said Saanich’s Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Rob Heppell, adding several residents also suffered from smoke inhalation and were treated by BC Ambulance Services.

Residents reported seeing “massive” flames coming from the top storey of an apartment building in the 2600-block of Richmond Road near Haultain Street for upwards of 45 minutes.

Nishi Lakhwara, a resident of the building, said she was evacuated at around 4:20 a.m. and by 5 everyone in the building had been evacuated.

“We were hoping it would not flame up as much as it did, but it just kept on flaming up,” she said. “We stood around and saw the flames for about 45 minutes.”

The building had a practice drill shortly before this fire and Lakhwara credits that drill for getting everyone out safely.

“We knew the procedures quite well but I think we were pretty quick to come down and that was the catch,” she noted.

Heppell said there will be extensive water and smoke damage, especially to four suites on the fourth floor that were directly affected by the fire.

Victoria, Oak Bay, and Saanich fire crews were on scene. Residents are expected to be displaced for several hours but an emergency reception centre has been set up at the recreation centre nearby.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and emergency support services will be provided to the affected residents.


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Three departments responded to a structure fire in the 2600-block of Richmond Road early Friday morning. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

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