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One dead after fire in James Bay apartment building

A man is dead after a Monday-morning fire in a James Bay apartment building. Victoria police were called about 8:30 a.m. to the residential complex on Menzies Street, near Thrifty Foods.
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Victoria firefighters respond to a fire at an apartment complex near the corner of Menzies and Simcoe streets on Monday, where one man died. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A man is dead after a Monday-morning fire in a James Bay apartment building.

Victoria police were called about 8:30 a.m. to the residential complex on Menzies Street, near Thrifty Foods. Detectives with the Major Crime Unit and forensics officers responded.

Acting Victoria Fire Chief Dan Atkinson said police were called in “given the intensity of the fire, time of day and things of that nature.”

“There is sufficient cause to say a joint investigation was warranted.”

No one else was hurt in the fire, which caused significant damage.

The cause has not been determined, although police said it’s not being investigated as a criminal act.

The B.C. Coroners Service is also conducting an investigation.

Atkinson said the blaze was reported via multiple 911 calls about 8 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they saw smoke and flames. “It was a very challenging fire for us to fight.”

The fire was in an apartment building at the complex, which also includes separate townhouse structures.

Crews were able to

enter the building and make their way up to the third-floor suite where the fire originated, where they were met with heavy smoke, Atkinson said.

Once in the suite, they found that the fire had made its way into the roof structure. It took about an hour to get the blaze under control, Atkinson said.

The fire was centred in a ­single suite, but about half a dozen other suites were also damaged, he said.

“There was smoke and water damage both to the units below and to the adjacent units, as well.”

Atkinson said a number of people were assessed at the scene by ambulance paramedics but he does not know of anyone who had to be taken to hospital.

He said “multiple” people are likely to be displaced.

“We’re working with our partners at Canada Red Cross for the provision emergency-support services.”

A second-floor resident of the apartment block, who did not want his named used, said fire-alarm testing was scheduled for Monday and he initially thought that was happening when he heard a commotion.

“Then someone was knocking on the door saying ‘This is not a test.’ ”

He said he didn’t smell smoke before stepping into the hall

“There was nothing visible on my floor but I could smell it a little bit and I realized right away this was a fire.”

He said he believes the building has over 30 units.

jbell@timescolonist.com