A window at the back of the townhouse complex was knocked out from the fire. Fire crews say they will likely be on scene until about noon today while an investigation takes place. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

UPDATED: Two officers taken to hospital, man in custody after morning blaze on Blanshard

Fire believed to have been intentionally set

Two officers were transported to hospital and one man is in custody after an early morning fire in the 2500-block of Blanshard Street.

Shortly after 4 a.m. Victoria Police patrol officers were called to the townhouse complex for the initial report of a dispute in the unit. Officers entered the suite and found the interior of the house to be on fire with multiple residents inside.

Officers were able to safely remove all residents from the suite and attempted to extinguish the fire, but it was too involved. Additional officers assisted with evacuating surrounding units as the fire quickly spread to the neighbouring suites.

According to police one male was taken into custody by officers on scene and there is no reason to believe that the public is at risk.

READ ALSO: One year after tragedy, Tonya Kilmer reflects on her life with Ben

Victoria Fire and Emergency Health Services attended and transported two officers to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation. At this time the damage appears to be extensive at this point and police say the majority of the residents have been relocated to alternate residences as the suites are not inhabitable.

Officers with VicPD’s Major Crime Unit and Forensic Identification Section attended and are continuing their investigation as it is in the early stages. According to police there is no information to indicate this fire is related to any other fires in the Victoria area, including the Old Plaza Hotel.

Victoria Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Moody said crews believe the blaze was deliberately started.

According to Moody, fire crews were called to the scene at 4:09 a.m.

“We had a fully involved fire in one of the suites,” he noted. “We had it pretty well knocked down from the interior but with the strong winds the fire got into the attic space and started travelling north into the adjoining suites.”

Crews battled the fire from the inside and the outside as well as the roof. Moody noted crews were most successful battling the blaze from the roof.

READ MORE: Downtown Victoria fire deemed ‘suspicious’

“I believe this is a deliberately set fire,” he said. “Police were called to this scene and people were in the suite when the fire occurred.”

At this time, it’s undetermined as to where the fire started in the suite but everyone in the entire row of suites was evacuated and no one was hurt in the blaze besides the two officers taken to hospital as a precaution.

A BC Transit bus arrived on scene at about 4:25 a.m. to provide shelter for the evacuees.

Olympia Koziatek, Victoria Fire Emergency Management, said the evacuees will most likely be taken to a hotel for the next three days while the investigation takes place.

Emergency Support Services were on scene handing out blankets to the evacuees.

One of the evacuees, who wished to remain anonymous, was visiting one of the residents in the townhouse complex and was staying in the unit directly beside the suite in question.

“The cops started yelling to get everybody out and then we picked up our kids and got the other people who were staying in the house out,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘We’re rolling the dice’: Esquimalt Firefighter union president questions staffing model

The mom of two said evacuees were moved to the front exterior of the building and then asked to either move to a nearby Subway restaurant or stand on the other side of the street.

“Just from that short period of time, the flames were bursting through the windows and through the roof.”

She couldn’t smell smoke until her family had been evacuated and were standing outside, watching the fire.

“It ended up spreading to the right side of the unit and we were in the left side,” she said. “There were large flames, big balls of black smoke, you heard glass crashing and things breaking inside the house.”

If you have any information, or witnessed anything this morning police are asking you call 250-995-7654.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Victoria Fire Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Northbound lanes are closed on Blanshard Street as crews investigate what is believed to have been an intentionally set fire early Friday morning. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Just Posted

Saanich council to dig into long-awaited garden suite study

Detached suites keep families close, provide financial flexibility, mayor says

Oak Bay council places 60-day protection order on Island Road house

Developer pulled heritage agreement over ‘exorbitant’ $417,000 fees

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Firefighters tackle medium-sized grass fire on rural Saanich property

Saanich Fire Department issues warm weather fire safety reminder

Electrical fault results in Saanich hydro pole fire

BC Hydro crews on scene repairing damage well into the early morning hours

VIDEO: Greater Victoria police officers try bhangra dancing with social media star

Gurdeep Pandher leads bhangra lesson on front lawn of the BC Legislature building

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read