A cloud of smoke billowed over downtown Hope for most of the day on Wednesday as firefighters battled a massive blaze on Fourth Avenue across from Memorial Park.
The fire started at about 6 a.m. in a garage in between an abandoned house and office/residential building, where Hope Dry Cleaners used to be located.
“Our concern of course was that the fire in the office building would carry on and continue to extend itself into the neighbouring apartments,” said Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy.
Residents in the neighbouring apartment buildings were evacuated immediately, but were allowed back into their homes after the fire was contained.
DeSorcy said every available firefighter in Hope was called out and mutual aid was requested from Yale. In total, 19 firefighters were on scene Wednesday.
The cause of fire is still under investigation by the local RCMP and fire department. No one was reported injured, however the abandoned house and office/residential building were completely destroyed. A man living in an upstairs unit did lose all his possessions, but firefighters managed to rescue his cat before the building was knocked down. Neighbouring apartments also sustained some water and smoke damage.
Maclynne Bourquin, executive director of Hope Community Services, said several families contacted them on Wednesday through the provincial emergency preparedness program, which provides lodging and food for 72 hours. Specific needs will be assessed in the coming days.
In the meantime, Hope resident Sharlene Hinds is collecting donations for the fire victims at Trails Crossing Friendship Centre. To find out what days and times items can be dropped off, contact Hinds at 604-869-4634 or firstname.lastname@example.org