VIDEO: Woman found dead after Lower Mainland apartment fire

Crews were called to the blaze late Wednesday night on Countess Street

A woman in her 60s succumbed to her injuries caused by a large, fast-moving apartment fire on Countess Street in Abbotsford in the early hours of Thursday.

The blaze was called in to emergency services at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with crews battling the blaze well into Thursday morning.

“When the guys arrived on scene, they found fire extending through the roof, through the units, as well as a number of people on their balconies, so they initially deployed lines to control the fire while they rescued people off the balcony,” assistant fire chief Jeff Snider said at a media availability at Fire Hall #1 Thursday morning.

“[It was] very complicated. Difficult conditions, icy, third-floor, a lot of people that haven’t been on ladders before, and now you’re taking them out in the middle of the night in fire conditions in the ice, so very difficult. Very challenging; guys did a good job.”

Snider said the majority of the eight people stranded on balconies were on the third floor, as that was where the major smoke hazard from the fire was. Crews then searched inside the building and found four more individuals needing assistance evacuating the blaze.

“There was a lot of smoke and definitely extensive fire within those central units,” Snider said of entering the building, adding that “it’s never safe” for firefighters entering a burning building.

“We make it as safe as we can, considering the circumstances. It’s a risk/benefit management that we do, and we decided that it was worth the risk to get in there and stop [the fire] on the interior side.”

Three tenants went to hospital in the first 10 minutes of the fire response with minor injuries and smoke inhalation.

Tragically, upon entering on a secondary search, an elderly woman was found in her unit to be suffering serious injuries and died after paramedics attended to her.

Fire crews were expected to be on scene for much of Thursday, searching for hot spots to extinguish and assisting the B.C. Coroners Service, fire inspector and Abbotsford Police Department investigations.

B.C. Coroners spokesperson Andy Watson said the investigation is still in “very early stages.”

Snider said there was “pretty extensive” damage to the third floor of the 2400-block Countess Street apartment building, along with smoke and water damage on lower floors. He couldn’t comment on the fire protection in the building, such as fire alarms, but noted that the older building had been recently renovated.

Snider said Emergency Support Services was activated for residents of the building, and would likely run for at least a few days, offering shelter and necessities. He said it would likely be days before any residents would be able to return home.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Fur Brigade Trail was transportation route in Okanagan Valley

Transportation corridor passed through Nicola Prairie, now Summerland

No hesitation; two bystanders assist in Penticton house fire rescue

“I’d do it for anybody,” says Penticton man after assisting in house fire rescue

Summerland churches go online during COVID-19 pandemic

Livestream services, online support provided to congregations and community

RCMP, firefighters rally in support for health care workers in Kelowna

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters Saturday night

Two people sent to hospital after Penticton Fire Department extinguish house fire

The fire was reported just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening on Duncan Avenue

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Second million-dollar lotto ticket sold in Okanagan

Twice, in less than a month, somebody won Guaranteed Match Number prize with ticket bought in Vernon

WATCH: Okanagan producer treats neighbours to live music from safe distance

Neighbours practiced social distancing as Jeff Johnson played songs from his front steps

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Most Read