Aggressive fire destroys vacant church in Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood
One firefighter sent to hospital due to smoke inhalation from blaze
Dozens of firefighters worked to knock down a fire that destroyed a vacant church in Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood Tuesday morning, spewing "particularly nasty" smoke in the air.
One firefighter has been sent to hospital due to smoke inhalation from the blaze.
The church was already engulfed in flames when firefighters were called to the 5800 block of East Boulevard at about 4:15 a.m. PT Tuesday, said Vancouver fire chief John McKearney.
The church has "toppled in on itself," he said.
"It's not very nice smoke, so we have to be careful on that," said the fire chief.
"I've been in this business for 37 years, I can tell that this smoke is particularly nasty."
Traffic is blocked on East Boulevard south of West 41st because of the three-alarm blaze. There were 46 firefighters on scene as of 7:30 a.m.
Fire chief says nearly 50 firefighters are on scene. <a href="https://t.co/142Teo6D4r">pic.twitter.com/142Teo6D4r</a>—@KamilKaramali
'People were constantly breaking in'
An apartment to the north of the burning building was evacuated, and residents were sheltered in the community centre across the street, as a precaution.
The church was slated for demolition this Thursday, and one of the residents evacuated from the apartment building said he's not surprised it's gone up in flames.
"I've been worried about this church for a while actually, I've seen people go in and out of it constantly," Keith Rollins told CBC's Kamil Karamali.
"They kept trying to seal it up, and people were constantly breaking in."
Fire crews are inspecting Rollins's building for possible smoke or water damage, and are pressurizing the building to keep out smoke, said McKearney.
Still, Rollins said he's nervous there will be smoke damage in his apartment, which is on a corner facing the church.
3 suspicious fires tonight
The church fire was one of three "suspicious" structure fires Vancouver Fire and Rescue responded to last night, said McKearney.
Two were in vacant structures, including the church which was slated for demolition, and another was in a house nearby. The third fire was in an East Vancouver house.
There have been 23 vacant structure fires in Vancouver this year alone, 16 of which are still under investigation by the Vancouver police department's arson squad.
The causes of the three fires last night are still under investigation.
With files from Kamil Karamali