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Multiple units destroyed as blaze empties Alberni low-barrier housing complex

Residents at Phoenix House displaced, given rooms at shelter following early morning blaze
Fire crews respond to a fire at Phoenix House on Fifth Avenue on Thursday, April 7. (PHOTO COURTESY JERRY FEVENS)

A low-barrier housing facility in Port Alberni was damaged by an overnight fire.

Mike Owens, fire chief for the Port Alberni Fire Department, said crews were paged out at 3:42 a.m. on Thursday, April 7 to a structure fire at Phoenix House, which is located in the 3600 block of Fifth Avenue. Because the building is a multi-family residence, crews from Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department also responded. Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department was on standby.

“When we arrived on scene, multiple suites on the first floor were fully involved,” said Owens. “We began an aggressive interior attack in order to suppress the fire in the building.”

Owens said all occupants were able to self-extricate. Three people were transported to West Coast General Hospital for treatment.

Phoenix House, operated by the Port Alberni Shelter Society, provides low-barrier, transitional housing for residents living with physical, mental or other challenges. In total, three units were destroyed by fire, while a number of other units were damaged.

Wes Hewitt, executive director for the Shelter Society, says that they are still investigating to determine the extent of the damage.

“We’ve shut the building down for the interim,” said Hewitt.

The sobering centre, located next door to Phoenix House, was not affected by the fire and is still open, said Hewitt.

Emergency Support Services were on scene Thursday morning to help people find alternate accommodations. Hewitt said “the majority” have ended up staying at Our Home on Eighth, which is also run by the Shelter Society.

”We’re making sure they’re all taken care of and housed,” said Hewitt.

Owens said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Fire crews respond to a fire at Phoenix House on Fifth Avenue on Thursday, April 7. (PHOTO COURTESY JERRY FEVENS)

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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