Fatal East Van fire deemed accidental

‘This appears to just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time’

The smell of smoke still hung in the air Wednesday morning as Vancouver fire department officials spoke about the city’s first fire-related fatality of the year.

Firefighters were called to a two-storey commercial building in the 1600-block of Pandora Street just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

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“Crews arrived to find heavy smoke and flames [coming] from the upper floor of the building,” said Cpt. Jonathan Gormick, public information officer.

Firefighters ran into the building and found an unconscious man. They got the 65-year-old out of the building and tried “for some time” to resuscitate the man before he was declared dead at the scene.

Additional firefighters were called in “because of the complexity of the building, the light industrial nature of the business inside and to protect the neighbouring businesses.”

At its peak, more than 50 firefighters were on scene battling the blaze.

Fire investigators have determined the fire was accidental and likely started in an electrical or compressor room in the building.

“There’s no evidence of any unlawful activity, the occupant was related to the business inside and was just working late and this appears to just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Gormick said.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and community affected by this tragedy.”

Deputy fire chief Ray Bryant said the building was not equipped with a sprinkler system. It was built in 1991 and the city’s sprinkler bylaws were brought in a year later. Buildings that were built before 1992 are only required to install a sprinkler system if there is a major renovation or change to the building.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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