North Vancouver housing complex fire claims lives of mother and son

A mother and her young son are dead after an early morning fire at a housing complex in North Vancouver.

Father and elder son said to have survived by jumping from 2nd-storey unit

Officials have not yet identified the victims but family members confirmed that Narges Casnajad and her son, Sepehr, were killed in the fire. (Family photo)

A mother and her young son are dead after a fire broke out at a housing complex in North Vancouver early Monday morning.

They were part of a family of four living at the Mountain Village Garden Apartments complex in Lynn Valley.

Officials have not yet identified the victims but family members confirmed that Narges Casnajad and her son Sepehr were killed in the fire.

The Mountain Village Garden Apartments in Lynn Valley were evacuated during the early morning fire. (Zahra Premji/CBC)

Flames broke out in one of the wood-frame buildings just before 2:30 a.m. PT on Monday.

Dorsa Pedroud and her mother, Mojgan Ahmadbeygi, knew the family and spoke to the surviving father and elder son in hospital.

She said the father and son escaped their second-storey unit by jumping from the balcony and a window.

More than 150 people were forced out of their homes as the fire grew. (Zahra Premji/CBC)

The boy had tried to get his mother and younger brother to jump too.

"She didn't jump out because of her son — she wants to take her son and come out together," said Ahmadbeygi.

Ahmadbeygi said the family, originally from Iran, had been living in the building for a few years.

In all, more than 150 people were forced out of their homes as the fire expanded in size. 

A city statement said 16 other people — some with serious injuries — were taken to hospitals across the Lower Mainland.

"There's a wide range of some serious injuries, smoke inhalation, there's burns," said District of North Vancouver fire Chief Brian Hutchinson.

Resident Terry Wagman described a scene of panic and chaos just before firefighters arrived.

"Everyone was just running everywhere, trying to make sure everyone was OK," he said. "All I could see was orange flames shooting way up in the air, 30 feet in the air."

One witness, Siva Chavali, filmed an explosion during the fire:

Raw footage from resident Siva Chavalli of the fire at Mountain Village Garden Apartments in North Vancouver early June 11 shows an explosion shooting flames into the sky. 0:25

Chief Hutchinson said the fire started on the first floor of one building and quickly tore up to the second level.

More than a dozen units were extensively damaged, according to RCMP.

About 70 evacuees have been permanently displaced from their homes. Residents of the three buildings that weren't severely affected by the fire were allowed back into their homes.

Wagman said the damage could have been "so much worse" if not for nearly 30 firefighters who responded.

"They saved a lot of people's lives and a lot more damage could have happened if they hadn't been so quick and so active in the way they pursued this," Wagman said.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.

Hutchinson said investigators are still working to determine whether the units had working smoke alarms.

'Had this been July or August, and we hadn’t had rain recently … it could have been much, much worse,' said resident Terry Wagman. (Zahra Premji/CBC)

With files from Zahra Premji and Briar Stewart

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story included a photo that incorrectly identified Narges Casnajad. The photo has now been replaced.
    Jun 12, 2018 10:05 AM PT