Fire gutted a condo building in the 19700 block of 56th Avenue in Langley City Friday evening.
The blaze broke out sometime between 5:30 and 6 p.m. on the upper floor of Madison Place, a 49-unit complex facing 56th Avenue.
City Fire Chief Rory Thompson said that there were no injuries or residents reported missing.
“Crews were four blocks away when they got the call – so they were fairly close,” Thompson said. “There was heavy fire already on the third and fourth floor when they arrived. Units from both the City and Township were on scene and it was one of those ones that was well involved.”
In total, it took eight vehicles and roughly 30 fighter fighters to douse the blaze – working all throughout the night to complete the job.
Surrey resident Ed Mallett told the Langley Advance Times that he was driving by when he looked over to see a single apartment on fire with flames visibly shooting out off the balcony.
“I put on my four-way flashers, got out, ran up the ramp to the front door of the building,” he recalled. “I banged on the door with my fist and saw no one. I looked at the intercom panel – it was single apartment dial-up only and realized that alerting anyone was futile.”
Mallett said he could hear a crackling sound behind him, which he said turned out to be molten plastic on fire dripping behind where he had just come into the alcove of the doorway.
“The right side was clear so I bolted out of the alcove and ran down the opposite ramp,” Mallett said.
From there, it appears to have spread across much of the top of the building, similar to the fire that destroyed the Padington Station condo building in 2016.
Built in 2007, Thompson said best to his knowledge, Madison Place did not have sprinklers installed on the balconies or attic spaces.
“Right now we don’t know the cause but are working with fire investigation crews and with RCMP to find out if the building is out of commission or not,” Thompson said.
Investigators have secured the area and will return on Monday, July 20th, with a structural engineer to determine the damage.
56th Avenue is closed to traffic between 198 and 197 Streets while crews remain on scene to douse smouldering ash and any flare ups.
An evacuee station is set up in front of Madison Place with a team of volunteers led by Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek to help set residents up in accommodations for the time being.
Thompson noted that the fire is not being considered suspicious at this time.
Relief Pours In
Ginger Sherlock, emergency programs coordinator, said outreach for evacuees is underway and team members are connecting with displaced residents throughout the weekend to determine next steps.
“It’s important to touch base first to figure out what they need,” Sherlock said.
A handful of Langley residents and businesses have already been opening their doors to displaced residents while collecting donations and organizing fundraisers on various Facebook groups like the Langley City Community Page.
Emilio Finatti’s Pizza, Pizza Factory, Save-On-Foods, and Damianos Pizza donated food to those affected by the fire, while businesses like Samz Pub are collecting physical donations.
Farm Country Brewing is donating ten per cent of their sales to the cause this weekend.
“That’s what we have to do as a community,” she said.
People were invited back the following morning for a free breakfast while Brogan accepted clothing and money donations from other patrons.
“There’s been animal food, clothing, baby beds, toothbrushes, you name it,” Brogan explained. “There are people right now driving around picking up things from other houses to bring here.”
Brogan added that, for the next two weeks, her diner will feed anyone displaced by the fire for free.
Karl Schifferns of GM SK Automarket said he would like to offer his car lot at 19833 Fraser Hwy as a drop off point for any donations people would like to give for fire victims.
“I’m thinking we’ll start with clothing and personal items for now and go from there,” Schfferns said in a Facebook post. “Check your closets, basements, ect, for anything you can spare and bring down. We will organize getting it to those in need.”
People can call Schifferns at 604-250-8646 if they have any questions.
A Gofundme campaign, set up by Kristin Molenaar, was additionally launched Saturday morning to raise further donations.
“Langley has such a big heart – so many people have been showing up at our door,” Brogan added. “It’s an amazing place and has amazing people.”
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