Vancouver, BC, Canada – Apartment building fire contained to single unit by sprinkler system

The sprinkler system installed at Isabella Court Apartments in Vancouver prevented a single-unit fire late Sunday morning from spreading, according to the Vancouver Fire Marshal.

The fire was reported at 11:14 a.m. at the large, four-story, 49-unit complex in the Bagley Downs neighborhood, according to dispatch records. The complex is owned by the Portland-based Reach Community Development nonprofit and opened last year, serving low income seniors.

Crews reported that the fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes.

Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said a tenant was heating oil to cook french fries in their kitchen, and then they went to the bathroom.

The smoke alarm in the apartment began blaring, and the tenant returned to the kitchen to find the sprinkler system dousing a fire, Scarpelli said.

The sprinkler worked as intended, according to Scarpelli.

“We have similar buildings where systems haven’t been installed, and the outcome is dramatically different,” she said.

The cause of the fire was categorized as an unattended cooking incident.

There was significant damage to the third-story unit that caught fire, as well as some damage to a ventilation system.

Scarpelli said the monetary damage totals about $200,000. The building is worth $7.8 million, she said.

Lauren Schmidt, fundraising and public relations manager at Reach, said the two units below the fire’s origin were damaged by water. Three tenants have been displaced, she said. Two are staying in hotel rooms while the third moved to a vacant unit in the building.

There is no time estimate for when the units will be repaired.

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