First Avenue apartment building evacuated in Mission

The B.C. Fire Commissioner issued the evacuation order Wednesday

Workers board the windows of an apartment building closed under an evacuation order by the B.C. Fire Commissioner Wednesday on First Avenue.

The third floor apartments at 33076 First Ave. were evacuated and closed by order of the B.C. Fire Commissioner Wednesday.

According to Mission Fire Rescue Service’s Asst. Chief Larry Watkinson, “extreme fire hazard conditions” present in the building prompted the department to seek the order.

Smoke alarms and bells were pulled off the walls and some of the fire breaks were breached, he said.

The 10 residents were given notice at 9 a.m. that they had to leave by noon, and Mission Community Services was on scene helping people find alternate accommodations. Food and transportation were also provided for any former residents, said Watkinson. Round the clock security has been arranged to keep any remaining possessions safe.

The fire department conducted 15 inspections over three months, and no compliance with orders to correct safety concerns were heeded.

There was no violence when the people were moved, said the assistant chief, and the residents were surprised, but “understood the danger.”

Only 10 similar orders like Wednesday’s were enacted across B.C. last year, as the process for approval is stringent, explained Watkinson.

“Mission Fire/Rescue Service’s priority was life safety for these residents, and then finding them a place to live,” he said.