Crews respond to apartment fire in Abbotsford

Smoke billowing from upper floor of building near intersection of South Fraser Way and Old Yale Road

Crews are responding to a fire in a Tessaro Crescent apartment building.

Crews are responding to a fire in a Tessaro Crescent apartment building.

The cause of a fire that took place Wednesday afternoon in a condemned four-storey apartment building is still under investigation, but is being treated as suspicious.

The blaze began at 12:40 p.m. in the former Tessaro Villa building on Tessaro Crescent near the intersection of South Fraser Way and Old Yale Road.

Assistant Fire Chief Craig Bird said two suites one on the third floor and the other on the top floor were on fire when crews arrived.

He said nobody was in the structure at the time, and crews were able to contain the blaze when they entered the building from a third-floor balcony.

The building suffered smoke and structural damage to the third and fourth floors, as well as water damage to the first two floors.

Members of the Abbotsford Police Department and BC Ambulance were also on scene.

The building was evacuated by tenants in January 2013 after a seven-year battle over maintenance of the facility.

There were 15 people living there at the time, and alternate accommodation was found for all of them.

Concerns about the building included that the strata property owners had not properly maintained the fire-safety system and that there were numerous health hazards, including blood on the walls, urine and feces in the stairwells, and used needles littered throughout.

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service shut down the building in 2013 after receiving approval from the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner to invoke an evacuation order.

The building has remained closed ever since.