The investigation into a fire that has displaced as many as 15 residents at Eva Lake Village has determined that the cause was likely electrical, originating on a top-floor unit in the complex. Original reports suggest it started outside on the balcony area and spread into the unit and attic of the building.
According to Whistler fire chief Rob Whitton, the fire was reported at about 4:35 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7. The first crews arrived shortly afterwards, and aggressively attacked the fire to prevent it from spreading through the three-storey wood building.
“The fire was on the back of the building on the upper deck,” said Whitton. “(The fire) had breached into the attic space as well, so we got part of the ceiling down and fought the fire form that perspective. One top floor unit had smoke and fire damage, and a few of the lower units have minor smoke and water damage.”
The fire was ruled to be out around 6:30 p.m., although a crew stayed on site to complete the cleanup.
Whistler Emergency Social Services provided emergency accommodation at a local hotel for residents that were displaced by the fire, smoke and water damage, and the fact that the power was cut to the entire building.
One of those displaced residents is Alex Crouch, who lives in a unit below the fire with his girlfriend. As of Wednesday morning he was still waiting for the all-clear to be able to enter the unit and assess the damage. He has looked through the window, and is optimistic that most of their possessions are safe.
“It looks like our unit isn’t damaged too badly,” he said. “We haven’t been in to see it, but it looks like it’s one of the better units. The second floor units were more damaged.”
Gillian Woodward owns the bottom floor unit two floors under the affected unit, and is mainly concerned with water damage. Their tenant has been displaced and is eager to back in and survey the damage.
“Our insurance agent was mostly concerned about possible water damage… because a lot of the water could have dropped into the lower units,” she said. “
She said the tenant was at work at the time of the fire.
At least one of the residents has taken out an ad on Craigslist looking for a new home for herself and her dog after two years in the complex. She wrote, “I am told that although I should get my personal belongings back, I need to plan for not being allowed back into the building.”
A letter from the strata company on Wednesday said that residents in all of the buildings units could go into retrieve possessions, with the exception of units 18 and 19. Residents are also advised to make long-term arrangements.
According to the letter “All units sustained varying degrees of water and/or smoke/fire damage,” which will be assessed in the next week. “This means that the units will have to undergo restoration repairs, which means that you will need to arrange manipulation/removal/storage of contents as soon as possible.”
Further, the letter suggested residents would be displaced for a minimum of eight weeks and possibly longer. “Until the electrical inspection is done and a structural inspection is completed we will not know if the building can be made structurally sound for the winter.”