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.

Just Posted

Summerland students to raise voices in public speech competition

Public speaking component is included in high school English program

Eastside Road re-opened following repairs

Section of Eastside Road closed by the Ministry of Transportation is open after repairs.

Summerlanders urged to travel by bike

Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Week run May 27 to June 2

Update: Administrative error results in do-over for South Okanagan dangerous offender’s trial

Ronald Arthur Teneycke will return to Penticton court on June 5 to start the process over

Summerland Giant’s Head Run features Retro ’80s theme

Event will be held Saturday, June 1 at 6 p.m.

Federal tourism minister announces new national strategy in Armstrong

Mélanie Joly announced funding available for rural communities and other parts of the new strategy

Gardens plant hope for Okanagan residents who were once homeless

Turning Points, in collaberation with Briteland, bring square foot gardening to Blair Apartments

Bear spray culprit released from Penticton RCMP custody

The individual who sprayed the bear spray at Compass House on May 22 has been released

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

Popular Peachland park reopens

Hardy Falls Regional Park has been closed from flood damage since 2017

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Okanagan mill taking two weeks downtime

Vernon-based Tolko Industries tells Armstrong employees mill will take downtime May 27 and June 3

More campsites coming to Okanagan and beyond

Province announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Okangan MP welcomes plan to fight human trafficking

Mel Arnold applauds Conservative plan for A Safer Canada

Most Read