A fire at a Burquitlam apartment building on Christmas Eve appears to be suspicious, the City of Coquitlam says.
The blaze broke out on Dec. 24 at Building 5 at Whitgift Gardens, located at 550 Cottonwood Ave., leaving about 20 people temporarily homeless.
No one was injured in the fire.
Kathleen Vincent, Coquitlam’s communications manager, told the Tri-City News today (Dec. 28) that the fire department has now wrapped up its investigation and, while the cause is still unknown, the fire “appears suspicious.”
Staff from the city’s building division are assessing the fire, smoke and water damage to see when the tenants can return, she said.
“At this time, there is no confirmed date and it may take several weeks to complete the repairs,” Vincent said, noting the property manager will contact the residents directly when it’s safe to go home.
Whitgift Gardens is a rental complex next to Cottonwood Park that’s owned and managed by Concert Properties, an active developer in western Coquitlam.
Concert did not immediately return a request for comment.
Vincent said evacuated tenants went to a reception centre, set up by the city’s Emergency Social Services (ESS), while the fire was underway.
And those who didn’t have a place to go afterwards went to a hotel, and given food and gift cards.
“Coquitlam ESS staff followed up with displaced residents earlier this week and arrangements have been made to extend provisions for temporary accommodation and food until Jan. 4,” Vincent said.
OFFERS TO HELP
As for donations, Vincent is asking the community to hold off due to holiday closures and staffing absences at local charities and non-profit agencies.
“Unfortunately, situations such as these can give rise and opportunity to scams and misdirected intentions, and we want to ensure that any assistance offered makes it to those in need.”
Updates will be posted on the city’s website (coquitlam.ca/cottonwood), as well as on its social media channels.
Meanwhile, the municipality offers the following safety tips for the winter:
- make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home
- clear storm drains near your home to prevent flooding
- don’t use candles during power outages