One person has died and at least one other is in hospital after a “catastrophic” fire in an eight-unit apartment building in Merville on Tuesday morning.
Firefighters from Courtenay and Oyster River responded to the blaze at the Hillview Apartments in the 7000 block of the North Island Highway, between Courtenay and Campbell River.
Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green said the two fire departments, which have an automatic-aid agreement, were dispatched at 11:39 a.m. and arrived about 10 minutes later.
Green said when he arrived, he saw flames coming out the side of the building on the top floor, heading down to the back corner.
He said he knew immediately that if anyone was trapped in the building, they had no chance of survival.
Courtenay firefighters hit the fire with a 21Ú2-inch hose, he said.
“Within 30 seconds, they probably had the flames knocked down, Green said.
“Then they had to go into the units and put the fire out that way as well and check for people.”
The entire top floor of the building was affected.
Oyster River sent a command vehicle and a water tanker, “4,000 gallons of water on wheels,” because the area has no hydrants, said the fire chief.
Green said the automatic-aid agreement ensured firefighters arrived quickly to limit the damage.
“It’s still a catastrophic fire, but because there were a lot of resources there quickly, the damage was limited, ” he said.
“Unfortunately, somebody did succumb to the fire, but it could have been a lot worse.”