Six people escaped housing complex fire this morning in Port Alberni thanks in large part to working smoke alarms.

Firefighters with the Port Alberni Fire Department responded to a call at around 6:50 a.m. this morning for reports of a fire at a housing complex on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Dogwood Street, near Roger Creek Park.

Port Alberni Fire Department deputy chief Wes Patterson told CHEK that fire was significant in size when crews arrived on the scene.

“It certainly was. The unit was heavily damaged by the fire and smoke. There were also smoke and water damage to either side of the building, but the fire was contained,” he said, adding. “It will need extensive renovations.”

Crews from the Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Cherry Creek Fire Department, and the Sproat Lake Fire Department, as well as local RCMP and BC Ambulance Service, also attended the scene.

The fire occurred in one of the three buildings that make up the housing complex, according to Patterson. He said there were six occupants inside the building who managed to safely escape before crews arrived.

“The occupants were out of the building when firefighters arrived,” said Patterson.

How the fire began remains a mystery said Patterson, adding that the department does not believe it was suspicious.

“It’s still under investigation at this point,” he said. “We had our investigator in their today but I haven’t heard what he determined yet. At this point, we don’t believe it is suspicious.”

There were no reported injuries and the displaced occupants are being taken care of by the province’s supportive services according to Patterson.

Patterson said the building had working smoke alarms, which in this case saved lives.

“There were some occupants inside the building but there were also some occupants outside on a patio and they were alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm,” he said. “They attempted to extinguish it on their own and then called the fire department.”

“Smoke alarms definitely saved lives,” he added.

Nicholas Pescod