Fire erupts at under construction house in Vancouver, displacing multiple families

Ten people have been displaced after a large fire in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services was called to a home on Keefer Street near Heatley Avenue at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

When they arrived, they found one house fully engulfed in flames that were quickly spreading to surrounding buildings.

The fire triggered a third-alarm response, with more than 44 firefighters, a dozen firetrucks, and an aerial ladder truck deployed.

Fire officials say the blaze originated in a home that was under construction, spread and damaged three homes in total.

“Obviously the two houses on either side of the house under renovation were occupied at a time. We’re super happy that everyone has managed to escape. I’m going to say working smoke alarms do make a difference,” said Chief Karen Fry of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

Theodora Lamb, her husband, their three children and their dog escaped in the nick of time.

“My partner heard a crash and ran downstairs and yelled, ‘It’s time to get out!’” Lamb said.

She confirmed their neighbour below also escaped.

“In this moment, the only thing that matters is that our family is okay. It is hard to see your home go up in flames, but I will tell you it’s deeply clarifying in that moment, you know exactly what counts,” said Lamb.

“We are so grateful to the Vancouver Fire Department and all of the first responders. They are so incredible,” she added.

Lamb says her neighbour called 911 after hearing a loud swishing sound at the game next door.

She says it all escalated very quickly after that.

“I don’t know, you go on autopilot. My partner was amazing, strong. He told us to move and we moved. You move fast. You think: shoes, jacket, go. That’s all we had time for,” said Lamb.

One of the biggest challenges for crews was how close the homes were together.

“A fire that starts on the outside of a building and laps or spreads to the neighboring building. As it gets into a neighboring building, even if there’s sprinkler systems in it. It’s not going to stop that fire from spreading to the roof or attic spaces,” explained Fry.

The fire investigator is now trying to determine a cause, but the chief says it’s too early to say whether or not the fire is suspicious.

One cat was missing during the fire fight, but was reunited with its family a few hours later.

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