Huge overnight fire destroys under-construction condo development in Langley
Fire was still burning as of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday
A huge fire destroyed a condo development under construction in Langley, B.C., on Monday night, and nearby buildings were evacuated as the fire spread.
Police were called to the scene near the intersection of 208 Street and 80 Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. PT Monday, according to RCMP Sgt. Barry Beales.
Officers were helping residents of nearby buildings to leave as the flames burned out of control, he said.
Langley Fire Chief Stephen Gamble said the fire was still burning as of 6:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday.
"It will be burning for quite a while. The building has come down. The only thing standing are the two elevator shafts. It's a pile of rubble now."
Gamble has been a firefighter for 40 years and says this kind of fire only comes once in about 20 years.
No one was injured as the building under construction was unoccupied, but three nearby buildings were also damaged, including a townhouse whose occupants won't be able to return to until it is repaired.
Buildings under construction may not have safety features like sprinklers built in, depending on what stage of construction they're at, meaning flames can quickly rip through the entire structure, says Gamble.
"We often describe it like a big campfire," he said.
He said at the height of the blaze, flames were shooting up dozens of meters into the night sky.
Video taken at the scene showed huge orange flames reaching into the sky and large billows of smoke late Monday night.
The area was closed to traffic as firefighters tried to get the blaze under control, and the sections of 208 Street and 80 Avenue adjacent to the development remained closed Tuesday morning.
Nearby school closed
The fire led to the closure of Willoughby Elementary School on Tuesday. An email sent to parents by the Langley School District says the fire has affected the Willoughby Slope community and many of its families.
"The health and safety of students, staff and the school community are a priority. The school is not accessible due to emergency responders on scene," the email reads.
The district says teachers and staff will be contacting families Tuesday and advises parents to check their emails and the school's website for updates.