With files from Shelby Thom
Fire crews are on scene at Drake and Howe in downtown Vancouver, where a fire has broken out in one of the units at the Quality Inn social housing project.
Four trucks responded to the call, and traffic in the downtown core is snarled with crews blocking access to the Howe street ramp to the Granville bridge.
Witnesses say the flames broke out in a unit on the seventh floor.
“I ran down the stairs I called 9-1-1, Got the fire department on their way and as I ran outside I told them I’d hold the door open for the firemen at the basement, I ran outside and I saw billowing black, like toxic smoke. Really black, like chemical smoke, being burned out of the room.
Mike Keheler, who helped evacuate the building, says the move was prompted by billowing flames and heavy smoke.
“It was covered in smoke, we tried to get the doors open, we got it open, we crawled in just barely, we couldn’t get past the smoke, we tried four or five times. We realized there was nobody in there at that point because somebody else had said they’d seen him outside. So other than that we just kept going up and down the hallways getting everyone out.”
Residents are now crowded outside awaiting word on damage and whether they can return to their units.
The former Quality Inn, which was converted to housing for the homeless, was the scene of another fatal fire back in March. In that case, a 45-year old man was killed by a fire believed to have started in his mattress.
No word yet on a cause.