South Vancouver apartment fire puts 25 people out of their homes

The Vancouver Fire Department says initial reports indicated there was an explosion. By the time they arrived, the second and third storey balconies were fully engulfed.

The Vancouver Fire Department says initial reports indicated there was an explosion. By the time they arrived, the second and third storey balconies were fully engulfed. (submitted by Mark Miller)

 

Neighbours in a South Vancouver apartment building were openly accusing each other of causing a fire that resulted in substantial damage to the structure Saturday morning.

Firefighters say the three-alarm fire started around 5:30 a.m. PT in the second storey suite of a three-storey walkup at West 70th Avenue and Osler Street, then quickly spread to the third floor.

Bill McMunnigle, who has lived on the third floor for 10 years, says he lost everything in the fire. 

Osler Street Fire

Musician Bill McMunnigle says he lost everything in the fire including a music collection he had built over 40 years. (CBC)

"I'm a musician and I had a collection of guitars, amplifiers and musical equipment," he said. "I lost 13 musical instruments, umpteen amplifiers ... a vast music collection I had been caring for, for over 40 years."

McMunnigle blamed the fire on new residents he claimed were partying. Outside on the street, neighbours screaming at each other nearly came to blows as similar accusations were leveled and denied.

Battalion Fire Chief Dan Christie says it's too early to say how the fire started.

"The initial report was there was a big explosion," he said. "Usually for a fire to get that big so quickly, something like that has to fester for a bit. It blew out the windows and quickly spread."

Despite the fire's intensity, Christie said firefighters aggressively attacked it from the inside of the building and managed to get it under control in little more than half an hour.

At the height of the blaze, about 44 firefighters were involved in the attack, he said.

Christie says everyone got out safely. No one was hurt.

Social services has since been called to the scene to help about 25 residents who have been temporarily displaced.

A Vancouver fire investigator was also on scene interviewing residents and witnesses.

Google Map: West 70th Avenue and Osler Street

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