A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)

Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

UPDATE 4:15 p.m.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue and the Regional HazMat team have deemed the building at 3623 Elliot Road unsafe to occupy.

Crews have not been able to detect the cause of the concerning odour coming from the building. However, under the City of West Kelowna Safe Premises Bylaw, a “Do not occupy” order has been posted due to other areas of concern through various areas of the building.

The building is made up of rental units. No one is allowed to occupy it until it has been made safe by the owner with the assistance of qualified professionals.

Residents of the building will have to register with ESS at the Royal LePage Arena on Cameron Roadd in West Kelowna before 10 p.m. this evening.

The reception centre will reopen tomorrow at 9 a.m. They will receive 72 hours of ESS support in the form of accommodations, food vouchers and incidental costs. The property owner will make arrangements for tenants after that time period. Residents are to contact their landlord (IronClad Developments) for more information.

WKFR fire crews will remain on scene into this evening to help evacuees by removing essential and critical items from the building, such as medications, identification, car keys. This can be arranged following registration at the ESS reception centre.

“We thank the residents and owners of the building for their cooperation in this challenging situation. We are also grateful for the assistance of the ESS Volunteers who continue to take care of the evacuees,” said said West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says further updates will be provided by the building owner.

ORIGINAL 11:40 a.m.

An apartment building in West Kelowna was evacuated early Sunday morning (April 18) due to a strange odour.

Around 4 a.m., West Kelowna Fire Rescue was called to 3623 Elliot Road, and when crews arrived on the scene, they immediately evacuated 150 residents and their pets.

“I was just sleeping in my bedroom, and there were just a lot of fire alarms going off,” said Joel Landa, a resident of the building. “Once we got outside, police and fire crews came; everyone was very confused and didn’t realize what was going on.”

Right away, the regional hazardous materials team from the Kelowna Fire Department was called in.

“I didn’t smell anything when I was in the building, but when I came out, I did smell an odour coming from the building. It smelled like gas,” Landa said.

The Emergency Support Services Team (ESS) is housing residents of the building at Royal LePage Place arena.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue and HazMat crews continue to search for the odour’s source. The building remains evacuated as of 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

“The building was swept and visually inspected all suites on the affected floors. Nothing was found. While some indications were received, none were strong or persistent enough to identify the exact nature or cause,” said West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund.

Another update is expected by 3 p.m. Plans are in place to provide the residents a place to sleep if the building remains evacuated overnight.

Although there is an emergency plan in place, Landa said he’s nervous.

“Honestly, with this whole pandemic, I’m not feeling too good about it,” he said. Landa is a healthcare worker and works with children who have special needs, many of whom have compromised immune systems. He said he has to be mindful of his physical interactions to ensure the children aren’t put at risk.

“As of right now, I’m just envisioning 150 people in one space and I’m nervous about it,” he explained.

As of yet, no one has been let back into the building to gather their personal belongings.

Kelowna Capital News will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.

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