Firefighters were trying to douse a blaze in a low-rise apartment building in Langley City’s downtown as of Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)                                Firefighters were trying to douse a blaze in a low-rise apartment building in Langley City’s downtown as of Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Firefighters were trying to douse a blaze in a low-rise apartment building in Langley City’s downtown as of Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times) Firefighters were trying to douse a blaze in a low-rise apartment building in Langley City’s downtown as of Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Fire strikes Langley City apartment building

Firefighters from the City and Township were battling the blaze

John Chaisson was planning to go for a bike ride and help a friend at his business, but a fire in the apartment suite below his changed all his plans and his future.

Langley City Fire Rescue called in Township firefighters for the three-alarm fire near 201A Street and 56th Avenue as of just before 9 a.m. on Friday morning.

“I heard the alarm go off but I didn’t think anything about it until I looked out my window and that’s when I seen smoke coming up and that’s when I decided to get out of the building,” Chaisson said. “So now, I’ve got no place to live.”

[Story continues below Tweet]

He has lived in the building about eight years and likes living there, says the other residents are mostly friendly and the building has security.

Chaisson, who is on a disability, paid $820 per month plus Hydro, and is doubtful he can find anything affordable. But he’s grateful he and everyone got out.

“I lost everything,” he said. “To me my life is more important than what valuables is. Pictures and stuff, I can replace that.”

As smoke detectors bleated inside the apartment building, residents and the public stood on the sidewalk and watched fire crews douse the suites to knock down the fire.

The fire was in an older low-rise apartment building, and appeared to be concentrated in a second-floor unit, with smoke and damage to the balcony. Chaisson said the people in the unit below his, which appears to be the starting location of the fire, had only lived there a matter of months.

The building is not the same one where a fire that broke out in the early evening on Thursday, Nov. 29 around the same general area.

The building is called the Villa Fontana and had more than 30 units.

A tenant meeting was held Monday morning.

Cran Campbell lived in a ground floor suite furthest from the fire but noted that all the tenants have been displaced as officials investigate no only the cause of the fire but possible reconstruction.

“I really feel sorry for the people there,” he said. “I think a lot of people there have lost everything.”

He’s in a unique position compared other residents, having tenant insurance which meant he was able to get help promptly, but he said the way other tenants were handled was problematic.

“I found it very dysfunctional,” he said. “They couldn’t find a place for people to live.”

The 71-year-old said the system to help victims of emergencies has to change. Campbell explained that some tenants are living with family elsewhere but the vouchers for necessities such as clothes are only good for Superstore in Willoughby so those tenants would have to travel back.

The fire department helped him get into his suite for a few minutes Friday to “grab a couple of things” such as medication. Campbell said he’s heard tenants will be allowed to retrieve their possessions next week but because there’s no specifics yet, he can’t hire movers.

Campbell, who worked in construction for about 15 years, said he’s concerned about old buildings with asbestos. He said they have to be made safe for people, noting he watched his brother die from cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

“They’ve got to be updated,” he said of older buildings. “They should not be having tenants in them.”

Campbell’s other concern is the fire alarm system.

“I never heard the fire alarm and other people didn’t either,” he told the Langley Advance Times. “This was the second time I never heard it in my apartment.”

He mentioned this to fire officials and said the alarm systems have to be configured differently.

“Although, there is an inspection every year on the alarm systems in the hallways it doesn’t necessary mean the tenant can hear the alarm in the suite,” Campbell said. “What got my attention on the day of the fire was the assistant manger banged on my apartment door and I went over and opened the door to find out who was doing the banging and I heard the alarm. What does this mean? The alarm old systems are not adequate and need updating in these older buildings not in the future but now. People with hearing problems would even be more disadvantaged. The alarm bells need to be in the suites and more located in the hallways and spread out. It’s funny how backward we have become and have settled for this illusion we are safe when in reality we can’t think pass the past into the future what is safe and secure, and humane.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A fire hit the Villa Fontana apartments in Langley City on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

A fire hit the Villa Fontana apartments in Langley City on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

A fire hit the Villa Fontana apartments in Langley City on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

A fire hit the Villa Fontana apartments in Langley City on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Fire strikes Langley City apartment building

Firefighters used a thermal camera to detect hot spots. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Firefighters used a thermal camera to detect hot spots. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Fire strikes Langley City apartment building

The fire occured on the second floor of the three-storey apartment building. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

The fire occured on the second floor of the three-storey apartment building. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Firefighters climbed ladders to help a few tenants out of the apartment building. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Firefighters climbed ladders to help a few tenants out of the apartment building. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley City Fire Rescue Service, with help from the Township fire department, fought a fire in an apartment building at 5609 201A St. on Friday morning. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Langley resident Anngela Bayer captured photos of the aftermath of the apartment fire.

Just Posted

Wes Barker, second from left, with fellow Big Trick Energy show performers on “Ellen,” in video posted to youtube.com.
VIDEO: On ‘Ellen,’ former Langley man works magic with new ‘Big Trick Energy’ gang

A decade ago, Wes Barker quit his job with the City of Surrey to do magic professionally

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020.   THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More Langley-area business closed due to COVID-19

Any business with three or more cases among employees can be closed

Vancouver Giants victorious over the Royals in Kamloops Thursday, April 15. The G-Men won, 4-0. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Giants young goalie shutouts Victoria, 4-0

The Langley-based WHL team earn another victory over the Royals Thursday in Kamloops

Critter Care’s first ever 50/50 winner is Kim Madill, who took home $28,852.50. (Critter Care/Special to The Star)
Winner takes home $28,852.50 through Critter Care’s first virtual 50/50

Kim Madill instantly donated part of the funds to the Langley-based wildlife society

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is moving forward on efforts to help citizens of Hong Kong remain in Canada rather than have to return. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Painful Truth: Canada’s immigration hopes may not be enough in post-COVID world

In a world of declining birth rates and rising wealth, where do new Canadians come from?

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read