Blaze erupts in downtown Squamish Monday morning

Squamish Fire Rescue says a blaze that ravaged a downtown building housing a cannabis grow operation was contained as of noon on Monday.

RCMP say that at least one person went to hospital due to smoke inhalation.

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As of around 12:15 p.m., however, fumes appear to have died down.

“Smoke is minimal,” said Fire Chief Bill Stoner. “We have knocked down the majority of the fire. Anything left is very minimal.”

Stoner said his initial assessment is that the building is a “complete loss.”

“There is significant damage to everything within the building,” he said.

No nearby structures caught fire, and when firefighters arrived, they were told there was no one in the facility, Stoner said.

Neither the District of Squamish nor Squamish Fire Rescue issued an evacuation order for occupants in nearby buildings, he said.

However, Squamish RCMP say they cleared people away from the smoke line. They are able to return now, officers say.

On Monday morning, Squamish Fire Rescue was on scene at a large structure fire near Third Avenue and Vancouver Street in downtown Squamish.

By late morning, the smoke appeared to be subsiding after firefighters doused the building with water.

RCMP Cpl. Sascha Banks, media relations officer, told The Chief the cause of the fire is unknown. 

“We’ll get to be able to take a look inside along with Squamish Fire to see if there’s any criminal element to it, or if it was just some type of an electrical malfunction," Banks said.

The building has cannabis grow operation as a tenant, but it is unclear if that constitutes the whole building and if the plants were burned, she says.

Mark Rice, who works at a nearby construction site, says he saw smoke coming from the building.

“There was smoke coming out from underneath the roof,” Rice said.

He called 911 and his crew banged on the building doors to alert anyone who may have been there.

Rice said a woman with a dog came out of the building.

At the time, there was significant smoke and district staff was speaking with Vancouver Coastal Health to understand any air quality issues, Christina Moore, a spokeswoman with the district, told The Chief.

“Residents should stay clear of the area and if in the vicinity keep windows and doors sealed to homes and buildings as a precaution, and to avoid the smoke entering their buildings.”

The district later posted a notice saying that no air quality advisory has been issued for the area, but officials will continue to monitor the breathing environment.

“At this time, there is no cause for concern,” the notice reads.

Mohammed Azim of the Sea to Sky School District was at the fire and said nearby school buildings were not affected. He saw smoke and checked the school site, he told The Chief. 

– With a file from Jennifer Thuncher



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