British Columbia

Hotel fire in Victoria that injured at least 6 people treated as probable arson

Many of the hotel's rooms were leased by B.C. Housing as supportive housing for homeless people. B.C. Housing said the fire did not originate in one of those rooms.

Fire department said blaze was 'significant' but mostly contained to single suite

A still from a video posted to Twitter showing the fire late Thursday. (@thestablevic/Twitter)

Firefighters in Victoria are treating a hotel fire Thursday night that injured several people as a probable arson.

The fire broke out at the Capital City Centre Hotel, at the corner of Douglas and Discovery streets.

The Victoria Police Department said officers were at the hotel just before 8:30 p.m. PT after a man who they said was armed and in crisis called police.

In a statement, police said they tried to talk to the man from outside his suite. He said he was at risk of harm and had barricaded the door. The smoke detector later went off and smoke was observed but officers could not get inside.

Paramedics were called to the hotel around 9 p.m. The Victoria Fire Department said crews were called in shortly before 10 p.m.

"When we made entry to that suite, there was heavy fire conditions," Victoria Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Atkinson said. "We initiated a fire attack at that point in time but the fire was already fairly well established and was able to grow relatively quickly.

"Fortunately, we were on scene quickly and we were able to get water on the fire and prevent further spread from the suite of origin."

An incident report from the fire department said the fire was mostly confined to the original suite but there was substantial smoke damage to the third and fourth floors.

Flames and smoke erupted from the building as shown by video from the scene and witnessed by fire crews. The building was evacuated.

"We had to perform a rescue of about three different suites [and] perform a rescue off the fourth floor with ground ladders," Atkinson said.

Atkinson said one person suffered "fairly significant" burns to their arms. Five other people were treated for smoke inhalation. All are now out of hospital.

B.C. Emergency Health Services says it transported seven people to hospital in stable condition.

Police said the man in the suite was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital.

Hotel was providing rooms for homeless people

B.C. Housing told CBC News in an email that it had leased 84 rooms in the hotel to provide supportive housing to 87 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The fire did not originate in one of those rooms.

A spokesperson said in an email that B.C. Housing is now looking for alternative shelter arrangements for the 87 people who are now displaced.

"We are waiting to hear when residents will be able to safely return to their homes at Capital City Centre Hotel," the spokesperson wrote.

"Meanwhile, we will continue to support and stay connected to residents who have been displaced, ensuring we are doing everything possible to meet their needs during this difficult time."

Grant McKenzie, communications director with the Our Place Society, which supports homeless people, says the society has managed the B.C. Housing-leased rooms at the hotel since Oct. 15.

He said half the hotel was being used for supportive housing while paying guests were in the other half.

The Red Cross, he said, has provided hotel rooms for 24 hours.

The fire department estimated the blaze caused about $250,000 of damage to the hotel.

With files from Liz McArthur, Yvette Brend and Chek News