British Columbia

Langley construction site fire sent flaming debris into the sky, says witness

Displaced man Saboor Meherzad had to dodge falling pieces of smoldering wood as he went door to door to alert neighbours to the fire.

Saboor Meherzad said smoldering wood was dropping around him as he tried to alert neighbours

Langley firefighters managed to stop a massive fire from spreading to a fourth building after it engulfed a condo development under construction. (Submitted to CBC News)

A man who lives next to the construction site fire that destroyed two unfinished condominium towers in Langley Monday night said the inferno was so intense, flaming debris was raining down around him as he tried to alert neighbours to flee.

Saboor Meherzad was working at his computer when he first heard the sirens.

"When we looked out the window you could actually see the glow of red and orange and the smouldering wood and ash was flying in the air," he said.

"I tried to see if I could get other people out of their houses ... but there were pieces of wood flying and dropping from the sky. I had a three-feet by two-feet piece of wood land right near me as we were going door to door."

Meherzad doesn't know if his condo was damaged but still hasn't received the all-clear to return.

He and his wife and two-year-old daughter slept at a nearby hotel Monday night. On Tuesday, the family spent the day with dozens of other displaced people, camped outside an emergency reception centre set up Willoughby Hall awaiting news and feeling frustrated by a lack of communication.

"We all are trying to put this behind us instead of sitting in a parking lot feeling like a bum," he said. "There are seniors, there are children, so it's difficult." 

Fire crews were called to the two six-storey, wood-framed buildings under construction near the intersection of 208 Street and 80 Avenue at 9:35 p.m. PT Monday night, and arrived to find them fully engulfed in flames.

It took until the early hours of the morning for 60 firefighters to get the flames under control. Water was still being poured on hot spots Tuesday afternoon. 

People displaced by the Langley construction site fire wait outside the emergency reception centre at the Willoughby Hall. (submitted by Saboor Meherzad)

Bruce Ferguson, deputy chief of the Langley Township Fire Department, said the buildings' sprinkler systems were not yet operational, and that some adjacent units — occupied and unoccupied — also suffered damage.

"It's too early to tell if this is suspicious,"  he said. "The fire investigation team hasn't been able to get close enough to do any kind of determination at this time."

Early reports said over 100 people have been displaced from their homes. No injuries were reported to either civilians or firefighters.

In a statement, Metro-Can Construction, the general contractor for this site, said there was one security guard and one employee on-site when the fire started.

The company said it does not know the cause of the fire.

Late Tuesday night, the Langley School District announced in an email that nearby Willoughby Elementary would be closed Wednesday "out of an abundance of caution and based on health and safety guidance from the Langley Fire Department."

The school site is also being used by first responders as they deal with the aftermath of the blaze.

The Township of Langley Fire Department is asking anyone with video or pictures taken in the area between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., including dashcam or security camera footage, to submit it via email to fireinfo@tol.ca.

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