Successful evacuation resulted in zero casualties
By Chandler Walter, Distribution Manager
A four-storey apartment complex on 2915 Glen Drive in Coquitlam reportedly erupted into flames around 4:30 p.m. on February 16 and continued on into the night. Investigators are still determining the cause, though it has been reported that the fire is not considered suspicious.
Cal McErlean and Michael Luke, who live in an apartment complex near the incident, were among the first to notice the smoke rising from the apartment. “You can see where the second floor is, that second floor was on fire and moving up,” Luke said about his initial sighting.
One onlooker nearby also stated that he saw a propane tank burst on the third floor balcony, shooting straight up to the apartment above.
Luke and McErlean’s wheelchair-bound friend was living in a first floor apartment directly beneath the spreading fire, and the two rushed in to help him.
“We’re jumping over the patio fence, helping our wheelchair buddy and his dog get out of there. I’m pulling pictures off the walls, Michael’s grabbing his laptop, we’re trying to grab all his particulars.”
Another friend rushed into the underground parking to retrieve a wheelchair accessible van.
McErlean claimed they arrived in the building minutes before many of the residents were aware of the blaze. “Once Michael and I went inside the alarms were on within a couple minutes. Within five, 10 minutes the fire guys were inside, everyone was knocking on doors.”
The lack of sprinklers was noticed by McErlean, “There were no sprinklers, nothing in the hallways pushing water.” Sprinkler systems were not a requirement of buildings constructed in the 1980s in BC.
Luke and McErlean were eventually able to successfully get their wheelchair-bound friend to medical attention.
Reportedly as many as 100 to 150 now former residents of the complex have been left displaced by the fire. Aide was set up at the nearby Pinetree Community Centre, and while several people were given hotel accommodations for three days’ time, victims of the fire will have to continue looking for places to live.
Some buildings nearby were also affected by the resulting smoke, but had high-powered fans circulating air through their front doors shortly after the fire began.
No casualties were reported, although several firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Reportedly more than 40 firefighters fought the blaze until 3 a.m. the following morning to fully extinguish the flames, and it will be months before the damage to the four-storey apartment building will be fully accessed and repaired.