Four fire departments and more than 30 firefighters were on scene at a structure fire in Esquimalt on Sunday. It is believed that one person died in the fire. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Four fire departments and more than 30 firefighters were on scene at a structure fire in Esquimalt on Sunday. It is believed that one person died in the fire. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

One believed dead after Greater Victoria house fire traps occupants

Crews perform multiple ladder rescues to save occupants

One woman is presumed dead after an apartment fire in the 800-block of Craigflower Road in Esquimalt – a community neighbouring Victoria – trapped multiple people Sunday afternoon.

At about 3:50 p.m., crews were called to a structure fire burning on the top floor of a four-storey apartment building in Esquimalt.

The first crews to arrive were informed there was a person trapped on the balcony of the fourth floor.

“The crew tried to make a quick rescue, unfortunately…it was an unsuccessful rescue,” said Esquimalt Fire Chief Chris Jancowski.

READ ALSO: Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Witnesses said there were people trying to help the woman during the early stage of the fire. Multiple people tried to get the woman to come down, using a blanket to encourage her to jump.

“I know that there was some civilians trying to assist that occupant on the fourth floor,” Jancowski said. “Any time civilians try to help civilians, in brave situations like this, it’s to be applauded. Their actions [to] try to coax, help her, assist her, it’s really appreciated.”

He said crews suspect the woman succumbed to the fire, but would not confirm until further investigations had been completed.

Crews also performed multiple ladder rescues of trapped occupants, but Jancowski said they don’t believe there are any serious injuries although there may have been some “small leg or arm injuries.”

Esquimalt Fire Department, CFB Esquimalt Fire, View Royal Fire Department and Victoria Fire Department were all on scene to assist with the blaze. More than 30 firefighters and four to five fire engines helped to douse the flames concentrated on the fourth floor, corner unit of the building.

The fourth floor of the building was severely damaged by fire and smoke, and the first, second and third floor may also have water damage.

Residents of the building will not be allowed back in tonight as crews investigate and clear the structure.

When asked what started the fire, Jancowski said it is still too early to tell.

“We’ll be in there tonight or tomorrow to try to figure out some of the other factors.”

READ ALSO: Woman admits to accidentally starting Dallas Road brush fire: Victoria Fire



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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