Six people have been displaced after a fire in the Robarts Street area early this morning. (CHRISTI ROBINSON photo)

VIDEO: Skateboarder alerts residents to fire that destroys Nanaimo house

Six people were displaced after the early-morning blaze in the Nob Hill neighbourhood

A skateboarder alerted residents to an early morning fire that gutted a home and damaged neighbouring buildings.

Six people have been displaced by the structure fire that destroyed one house and damaged a second home and a neighbouring apartment building.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded at about 1:40 a.m. Thursday, July 26 to the rental house, which was burning at Robarts Street in the Nob Hill neighbourhood.

Capt. Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief fire prevention officer, said the four residents in the home were alerted by a skateboarder who spotted the flames at the front of the house.

“A person that was outside at that time of the morning noticed smoke and fire from the front of the house and went and banged on the house with his skateboard and woke everybody up,” Mond said.

All the residents escaped without any reported injuries, but the home was completely destroyed.

“Two houses were damaged, so there’s the one that burned and then there was exposure damage to the house next door and then there was a little smoke exposure damage to an apartment … building behind,” Mond said.

Two residents from the neighbouring house have also been temporarily displaced.

“We’re still trying to get hold of the owner of the house,” Mond said.

Craig Evans, who owns the house next door, had retured to his home Thursday morning after it was determined it was safe to do so, but he said it is uncertain if he will stay because of smoke damage.

“I woke up about 1:40 in the morning and I could smell smoke,” Evans said. “I realized it was plastic smoke and then … I was still lying in bed and I heard someone yelling, ‘Get out of the house. It’s on fire.’”

Evans ran outside and turned on his garden hose to try to stop the fire from spreading to his property.

“Within minutes it went, from what I thought was initially just a grass fire, to the side of the house catching on fire, to the windows breaking and the insides catching on fire. All within five minutes, it was totally out of control,” he said.

Evans’s house, which he said was built in 1891 as a mirror image to the house that burned, is insured.

Chris Sholberg, city heritage planner, said in an e-mail the city does not have an exact date of construction for the house, but it was built before 1908 and “the 1890s would not be beyond the realm of possibility given the architectural style of the building.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigators wish to speak with the witness who alerted the residents to the fire.

“We don’t know who that person is,” Mond said. “We’re looking for him because he was the first one to see the fire.”

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s non-emergency line at 250-753-7311.



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