Update: Apartment fire erupts inside Columbia Gardens

Fire alarm fails to go off in wing of Columbia Gardens apartment building during March 1 fire.

Revelstoke firefighters attack a blaze at the Columbia Gardens apartment building on Wednesday.

A fire alarm failed to go off inside a Revelstoke apartment building after a blaze broke out in one of the units last week.

Dozens of people were forced from their homes after a unit in Revelstoke’s Columbia Garden apartment building caught fire late last Wednesday afternoon.

The fire started sometime around 5 p.m. on Mar. 2. Multiple fire trucks, police and ambulance rushed to the scene, while the residents of the apartment complex evacuated the building.

“When we arrived on scene, smoke was coming from the side of the building on the second floor,” said fire chief Rob Girard.

An attack team was sent in to the building to fight the fire from the inside. Another team smashed the window to the apartment and attacked from the outside.

The fire was quickly extinguished, but firefighters were checking the building to see if it spread to the roof structure. They found the fire was contained to the one second floor apartment.

“It looks like it’s just contained to that room at this point,” said Girard.

Josh, who lives in the apartment with two roommates, said he was at a friend’s place nearby when the fire started. He was told there was smoke coming from the building.

“I got out here and there was smoke pouring out of the right window,” he said.

He said he went inside briefly to see if his roommates made it out. “The smoke was already halfway down the stairwell.”

His two roommates made it out safely and unharmed.

Many people were milling about outside, waiting to find out if they could go back home. Girard said they would inspect the building first.

“Were going to need to make a determination now as to how habitable those units are and how far down we can go,” he said, referring to the ones next to the apartment that caught fire.

Girard credited the quick response of the fire department with preventing the fire from spreading further throughout the building.

“This building has a lot of residents and I am very proud of our quick response time of four minutes,” he said.

Twenty-two fire fighters and a full complement of vehicles responded to the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

According to several residents, the fire alarms didn’t go off inside one wing of the apartment complex and that some residents didn’t know of the fire until firefighters knocked on their door.

One commenter on the Review website wrote her daughter slept through the whole ordeal.

Girard confirmed the alarms didn’t go off and said it was a concern. He said they spoke to the building manager and they addressed the issue.

“All buildings do testing and all buildings can have problems with alarm systems,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s been repaired.”

 

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