(Image / Cate Lynn Wise)

Although the source of Sunday’s tragic Esquimalt fire has not been conclusively identified, firefighters believe the blaze was sparked by human error.

According to the Esquimalt Fire Department, the massive blaze was a result of human error in an upper floor unit, and was not sparked by a faulty appliance or device.

On April 7th, flames ripped through the top floor of a four-storey apartment building. The blaze sadly claimed one woman’s life, and has displaced all of the tenants of the 47 unit building.

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According to the fire department, the decades-old building did not have a sprinkler system, but that is not unusual. Building safety codes in the 1960’s and 1970’s did not require a built-in sprinkler system, and the apartment complex was up to code for the time.

Tenants still unable to return to their homes

While the investigation is ongoing, the approximately 100 tenants of the apartment building are still without a home.

The Esquimalt Fire Department told Victoria Buzz that supervision of the building has been returned to the property management group, Belmont Properties, who will be responsible for setting the date on when residents are allowed to return.

In the meantime, many tenants of the building have been staying in nearby hotel rooms that have been provided by the Esquimalt Emergency Social Services (EESS) program and Belmont Properties.

It is standard procedure for EESS to provide accommodations for people in an emergency for up to 72 hours, according to Emergency Program Manager, Sarah Jansen.

After that, the property management group has been footing the bill for the remainder of the residents’ stay.

In total, 70 people registered for aid from EESS and 60 are being housed by the program and Belmont Properties.

Jansen told Victoria Buzz that she has been impressed by the support that the community has shown for people displaced from the fire.

“In any of these emergencies, when people are evacuated they’re taken care of by volunteers,” she said. “It’s pretty remarkable that so many people are so willing to help.”

Jansen added that the Esquimalt Church of the Nazarene has been playing a big role in supporting the community. Just one day after the fire, the church established a GoFundMe campaign that has thus far raised over $8,000.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to Belmont Properties for further details.

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