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

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Harrison looks to test viability of solar power

Harrison has applied for a grant to see whether solar power is an option for its village buildings

Agassiz man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Funding uncertain, but Agassiz’s Storytime in the Park will go on, organizer says

The literacy program takes place each summer in Agassiz, Harrison and Seabird Island

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

UPDATE: One dead after house fire in rural Maple Ridge

Dewdney Trunk Road closed, traffic being re-routed

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

No estimated time for opening

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

Most Read