A fire in Whitehorse’s industrial area wiped out all nine units of a row house early Sunday morning.
Someone called 911 around 3 a.m. and when firetrucks arrived, RCMP were already evacuating people from the building, said Whitehorse Fire Department platoon chief Dave Dowie.
The cause of the fire and exactly where it started are still under investigation.
Flames were visible when firefighters arrived at the building on Galena Road.
“It had progressed into the attic area and this made it a very stubborn fire for us to fight,” Dowie said. “It got up into the attic space and ran the entire length of the building.”
Not long after firefighters got there, the roof collapsed.
Aside from a search to make sure everyone was out, the nine firefighters on the scene fought the fire from outside.
“The building very quickly became unstable for members to go in,” Dowie said.
Modern building codes require units to have fire separation barriers that include the attic space.
This building is believed to have been constructed sometime in the 1940s or ’50s, Dowie said.
“Back then (fire separation) probably wasn’t a requirement.”
Separation would have helped, he said. “It would have bought a lot more time.”
Most of the fire was put out around noon, though firefighters stayed on scene until about 4 p.m. checking for hot spots. The building is a write-off, Dowie said.
“The building was insured. We do not know about tenants’ insurance.”
RCMP spokesperson Coralee Reid said police don’t have a formal protocol for finding accommodations for residents who are displaced in the middle of the night.
“We usually work with the resources available within the community to help any residents who are displaced, and ensure they have a safe, warm place to go to.”
Reid said some of the residents spent the rest of the night at the Salvation Army.
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