Emergency crews were in the 1500-block of Vidal Street in White Rock the evening of Nov. 28, for an apartment fire. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)

Emergency crews were in the 1500-block of Vidal Street in White Rock the evening of Nov. 28, for an apartment fire. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)

White Rock fire started ‘less than an hour’ after resident left: chief

Unattended incense sparked apartment blaze

An evening fire that displaced residents of a Vidal Street apartment building’s top floor last week was caused by unattended incense, the city’s fire chief has confirmed.

And while it wasn’t intentionally set, the incident is a reminder of how quickly something can get out of control, Phil Lemire told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

When building alarms triggered just before 6 p.m. Nov. 28, “the resident had been out for less than an hour,” Lemire said.

The fire occurred in one of four fourth-floor units at 1520 Vidal St. Residents were quick to evacuate, receiving assistance at the scene from both the city’s emergency social services team and residents of the neigbouring Beverley complex.

The following day, deputy fire Chief Ed Wolfe told PAN the quick response of residents who alerted firefighters, and of fire crews that responded, averted a much bigger problem.

The fire was “very close” to expanding beyond the one unit, Wolfe said.

“It never vented out a window, but it was just at that stage where it easily could’ve,” Wolfe said. “I have to give full kudos to the first arriving crew, they did a great job to contain it.”

The other three top-floor units suffered smoke damage in the incident.

Lemire agreed the quick actions of all “for sure” had a positive influence on the outcome.

He said residents of the smoke-damaged suites are estimated to be displaced for “a couple of weeks” while the contents and the units themselves are cleaned.

Residents of the unit where the fire started will “be out of their suite for a considerable period of time.”

tholmes@peacearchnews.com