British Columbia

6 people displaced after windstorm partially knocks down Strathcona building

Six residents from Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood have been displaced after the firewall of a nearby building development collapsed during a windstorm Friday evening.

Residents question where they will end up after their home was destroyed

Trevor McEachran and his girlfriend, Hayden Kannegiesser, live in a coach house in Strathcona that was destroyed during a windstorm in Vancouver. (CBC)

Six residents from Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood have been displaced after the firewall of a nearby building development collapsed during a windstorm Friday evening. 

The five-storey brick firewall fell onto a house and coach house near the intersection of Gore and Pender streets, a city official said, as well as a building for the Lee Benevolent Society, which doesn't house any residents. 

"From what we understand there is a concrete firewall between the building and the neighbouring property and it came down in the wind last night," said Pat Ryan, the city of Vancouver's chief building official as he surveyed the damage Saturday morning. 

Resident Trevor McEachran and his girlfriend, Hayden Kannegiesser, who live in the coach house two doors down, had just stepped out for groceries when the wall fell.

The firewall collapsed from the building on the left onto the three buildings next to it — the Lee Benevolent Society and a home and coach house. (CBC)

"It's mind boggling. Our lives are in there. That was our home," said McEachran on Friday

Kannegiesser said the damage was shocking.

"We looked at our house and you could just see the living room totally ripped open and exposed. And my jaw just dropped, " she said.

"And when I heard what the cause was I was outraged."

Structural engineer Graham Taylor said he couldn't comment on this specific incident, but he said the collapse does not say anything about the quality of the construction. 

"During construction a building is vulnerable," Taylor said. 

"All buildings rely on their completed state to provide the maximum performance where everything is properly connected."

Six people live in this home and the coach house behind it. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Ryan said engineers were surveying the building to see if there was any more risk of damage to any of the buildings. Until then, no one was being allowed inside. 

Saturday afternoon, the block around the damage was cordoned off with caution tape. 

"It's still preliminary until we can understand what happened," Ryan said.

"WorkSafe BC was here, so they'll be doing their findings and then once we have that together we can figure out what to do from there."

'We're all in shock'

On Friday, McEachran and Kannegiesser said they would probably stay with family.

All they had with them were the clothes they were wearing and the groceries they had just bought. 

"It's really hard to think of where to live that's affordable," she said.

"We're all in shock so we're not sure how to proceed yet. It's really difficult to process, and we want to know if we can get our belongings."

Alan Tang has lived for 20 years in the main house that was partially damaged. He was watching TV in the living room when he heard a large boom, which he thought was lightning.

Alan Tang says he has rented his home in Strathcona for about 20 years. He doesn't know where he will stay now that it was damaged in a windstorm. (CBC)

But when Tang went upstairs to look into it he saw the damage in his bedroom. 

"That's life. You never know what happens." he said. 

Tang wasn't sure where he was going to end up staying. 

Ryan said the city's emergency services department was helping the six displaced residents — a service the city usually offers for up to 72 hours, although he said that can be extended. 

With files from Brenna Rose