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UPDATE: One dead as a result of morning James Bay fire

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but not as a criminal act say police

One man has died as a result of a James Bay fire early Monday, the cause of which is still under police investigation.

Firefighters responded to a “challenging and heavy” fire reported on the third floor of a multi-unit residential building in the 100-block of Menzies Street at 8 a.m. Monday. Victoria police shut down traffic along Menzies and Croft streets from Simcoe to Niagara streets.

The contents of the engulfed residential suite had burned for some time before firefighters arrived, according to Victoria Fire Department acting Chief Dan Atkinson. The amount of time it took for it to be noticed was concerning, he said.

“Generally during daylight hours fires are noticed a little bit more quickly and we’re alerted more quickly,” Atkinson said.

Other than the single deceased, no other injuries were reported as a result of the fire which sent over a dozen residents to wait outside to the attendance of BC Ambulance Service. The unit itself has been heavily damaged, and Atkinson said he suspects six to eight others will have smoke and water damage.

READ ALSO: Information sought around series of James Bay arson incidents

Soufia Boulebda, whose unit was directly below the fire, is likely one of those affected. She told Black Press Media she woke to a strange noise in her ceiling but didn’t think much of it until her building manager came banging on her door and yelling for everyone to get out.

Other residents said they were woken by the fire alarm, but weren’t sure if there was a real fire occurring since they were expecting a building fire inspection Monday. Like Boulebda, they didn’t realize what was happening until the building manager banged on their doors.

A BC Transit bus is providing temporary shelter to the couple dozen residents waiting outside while police and firefighters continue to investigate.

READ ALSO: Victoria firefighters take to Instagram to answer burning questions

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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