Police, fire, ambulance crews all were at the scene of a fire on the fourth floor of the Lewis Apartments Thursday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

One dead following apartment fire in North Cowichan New Year’s Eve

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed that one person has died following a devastating fire at an apartment building in North Cowichan on New Year’s Eve.

“The BC Coroners Service has been notified of one death relating to this incident and we are currently investigating to determine all of the facts. As per the Coroners Act, to protect the privacy of the deceased, we cannot confirm or release identification,” the office said in an email.

Dozens of people milled about in a daze in front of Lewis Apartments on Lewis Street Thursday afternoon as firefighters fought a blaze that swept through units on the fourth floor, sending residents scrambling to escape the inferno.

The call came in at 12:55 p.m. and fire crews from Duncan and North Cowichan’s South End as well as Maple Bay and Crofton halls were quickly on the scene and began putting up ladders to help people escape their balconies on the third and fourth floors, as well as beginning to put the fire out.

According to BCEHS, 10 ground ambulances were dispatched, in addition to an air ambulance.

Major injuries are reported.

“Paramedics cared for multiple patients onsite before transporting six patients in stable condition and one patient in serious condition to hospital by ground,” said BCEHS spokesperson Sarah Morris. “One other patient, in critical condition, was cared for by our Critical Care Team and flown by air ambulance to a higher level of care facility.”

One woman at the scene, who asked that she not be identified, said she was visiting a fourth floor apartment when a loud explosion was heard next door, followed by the smell of smoke.

“We couldn’t get out of there fast enough,” she said.

“It went off like a bomb. We barely got out.”

The Cowichan Valley Regional District said they set up an emergency reception centre at the Cowichan Community Centre, but that all apartment residents were accommodated in hotels.

cowichan valleyfire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

An EHS helicopter lands at Quamichan School to support the efforts at a fire on Lewis Street Thursday afternoon. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read