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Victoria major crimes unit investigating slow-burn apartment fire

Time taken for fire to be noticed “concerning”, says Victoria fire chief

Victoria Police Department’s major crimes unit is investigating the site of a morning fire in James Bay.

Firefighters responded to a “challenging and heavy” fire reported on the third floor of a multi-unit residential building in the 100-block of Menzies Street at 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Victoria police shut down traffic along Menzies and Croft streets from Simcoe to Niagara streets.

The contents of the engulfed residential suite had burned for some time before firefighters arrived, according to Victoria Fire Department acting Chief Dan Atkinson. He said they aren’t treating it as suspicious as of yet, but that the amount of time it took for it to be noticed was concerning.

“Generally during daylight hours fires are noticed a little bit more quickly and we’re alerted more quickly,” Atkinson said.

Although the fire has since come under control, the fire department cannot yet confirm that all residents escaped safely or its origins. Atkinson did say paramedics had assessed and treated a number of individuals, none of whom he said sustained serious injuries.

READ ALSO: Information sought around series of James Bay arson incidents

The unit itself has been heavily damaged, and Atkinson said he suspects six to eight others will have smoke and water damage.

Soufia Boulebda, whose unit was directly below the fire, is likely one of those affected. She told Black Press Media she woke to a strange noise in her ceiling but didn’t think much of it until her building manager came banging on her door and yelling for everyone to get out.

Other residents said they were woken by the fire alarm, but weren’t sure if there was a real fire occurring since they were expecting a building fire inspection Monday. Like Boulebda, they didn’t realize what was happening until the building manager banged on their doors.

A BC Transit bus is providing temporary shelter to the couple dozen residents waiting outside while police and firefighters continue to investigate.

READ ALSO: Victoria firefighters take to Instagram to answer burning questions

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