A fire at a Richmond Road apartment complex may leave residents in nearly one-third of the building’s suites without homes for several weeks.
According to the Saanich Fire Department, 24 of the 85 suites building were left uninhabitable after the Friday morning fire.
“Some residents will be able to return to their homes tonight,” the fire department said in a news release. “However, the residents from the uninhabitable suites may be impacted for several weeks.”
The fire department is working with the Saanich Emergency Program and Emergency Support Services to support the affected residents.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by this incident and we thank all of the emergency personnel who assisted with the response,” the department said.
Emergency crews were called to the fire, on the 2600-block of Richmond Road, around 4:30 a.m. Friday morning. Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from a fourth-floor balcony when firefighters arrived.
One woman, in her 60s, died. She was found in the hallway of the fourth floor and later succumbed to her injuries. Two other residents were sent to hospital, suffering from smoke inhalation.
Capt. Jerry Tomljenovic, with the fire department, said Friday morning that about 50 people were forced out of the building and that the displaced residents were taken to the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre. Food, clothing and lodging was being issued to the residents, he said.
The cause of the fire was still unknown, as of Friday evening.
Saanich police Det. Sgt. Damian Kowalewich told media he was not sure if the fire was suspicious. Officers with the detective division, the forensic team and the patrol unit are all involved in the investigation.
Fire crews and the B.C. Coroners Service are also involved.
— with files from Kendra Crighton