Flames tore through a community church and outreach centre on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside late Wednesday (July 7), sending one firefighter to hospital and displacing nearby residents.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says they were called to the corner of East Hastings and Main streets at 9:20 p.m. for a report of a building on fire. When firefighters arrived on scene, they found Street Church heavily engulfed in flames and smoke filling the street, Assistant Chief of Operations Brad Hesse told Black Press Media.
Hesse said the fire spread to an adjoining building before crews were able to get it under control.
Video tweeted by Fire Chief Karen Fry shows firefighters continuing to fight the blaze past 1 a.m. Thursday. No flames are visible, but smoke pours out of the building and Fry describes it as “still an active fire.”
Hesse said one firefighter was sent to hospital with unspecified injuries, and numerous residents of a nearby SRO were displaced for the night due to the level of smoke in the area.
Thursday morning, firefighters remain on scene to fight lingering hot spots. East Hastings Street between Main and Columbia streets remains closed.
The injured firefighter has been released from hospital, according to the city’s fire inspector.
— Karen Fry (@Karen_Fry) July 7, 2022
The fire is the third major one to occur in the Downtown Eastside in the last few months.
In April, the historic Winters Hotel in Gastown, which was being used as an SRO, took two lives when it burned to the ground. Officials later determined candles had likely started it.
Just last week, another fire destroyed the Value Village on East Hastings Street. No injuries were reported and the cause remains unknown.
Hesse said the cause of Wednesday night’s fire at Street Church also remains to be determined.
— Sarah Blyth (@sarahblyth) July 7, 2022