British Columbia

Massive fire in Langley Township

An entire block in the Township of Langley went up in flames as an apartment complex under construction burned to the ground.

Whole building consumed in flames as complex under construction destroyed

Deborah Johnston explains how a massive fire next door woke her up around 4 a.m., Sunday morning. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A massive fire in the Township of Langley, B.C., has completely destroyed an apartment complex under construction.

The fire was so large that it spread to a neighbouring apartment building, burning the side, shattering windows, and forcing the evacuation of dozens of units.

Officials said the fire began a little before 4 a.m., PT.

 Bruce Ferguson, the Township of Langley's Deputy Fire Chief, said he was sleeping at home when the call came in.

"I immediately went outside, I live about four miles from here. I could see the glow from outside my front door," said Ferguson.

Neighbour Deborah Johnston who lives on the far side of the adjacent building said she was also sound asleep when the alarms went off.

Johnston said alarms are common in the building, but her son noticed the glow from the flames outside.

"I just grabbed my purse and a few treasured things that were quick and close to grab, I threw shoes on and a jacket. My son grabbed our cat and out we went," Johnston said.

Fire officials discuss plans, while a fire burns behind them at an apartment complex in the Township of Langley. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Ferguson said the building under construction, which stretched across an entire city block, had three floors built. He said it was fully in flames when crews arrived.

"There's propane tanks, there's machinery inside, we're hearing tires explode, all sorts of stuff. It is a mess."

"When I arrived, the crews were focusing their efforts on protecting the townhouse complex behind, and once they got protection on that, they were able to put some water on this one, but it was totally lost when they got here," said Ferguson.

"We had RCMP, Abbotsford Police were here. We had lots of help evacuating people out of that area," Ferguson added.

Johnston said she was told she wouldn't be able to return home Sunday, even though her apartment wasn't on the side of the building that received the most damage.

The building next to the apartment complex under construction was damaged by the huge fire. Many residents will be without homes for awhile. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"The firemen had been up on the second floor, and they had axed all the doors that were locked, because they had to check that no one was inside," Johnston said. "So there'll be some damage."

"Some of those homes, definitely will not be able to be re-inhabited this evening, or for some time," said Ferguson.

Ferguson said one resident was taken to hospital with minor injuries, and an RCMP officer was also hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Ferguson said officials haven't determined what started the fire. 

"We haven't even began to investigate, and there may not be anything left to investigate, by the time we're finished here."

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