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Downtown Eastside fire displaces residents, kills two dogs

A restaurant downstairs has had to close temporarily as well
Screenshot 2022-07-18 105928
Fire pours out of the top of a Downtown Eastside building in Vancouver.

While all the residents were able to escape unharmed, two dogs died in a fire in the Downtown Eastside this weekend.

Vancouver Fire Rescue Services were called to the scene at 566 Powell St. around 8 p.m. Sunday, July 17, says Asst. Chief Ken Gemmill. Those first on the scene found heavy smoke and fire on the top floor of the two-storey building, which is being used as an SRO.

While smoke and flames were visible outside, finding the seat of the fire, where the main body of the fire is, was difficult.

"The location wasn't super easy to find in the suite," says Gemmill. "The fire was in a hidden area of the building."

After "a bit of demolition to the suite" crews were able to find the source of the fire and take action, Gemmill says.

Because the flames were on the second floor where people were living, it was upgraded to a two-alarm fire. A total of around 30 firefighters responded to the scene, along with six pieces of heavy equipment.

No humans were injured in the fire, but two dogs were discovered dead in the suite, likely because of the fire.

One suite was badly damaged in the 110-year-old building Gemmill says, and the two residents living there will be displaced for some time. Others on the same floor will be temporarily displaced due to water and smoke damage.

Donsako, a Japanese restaurant downstairs, was damaged by water; the staff were celebrating the business's fifth year open this weekend. Gemmill notes the fire didn't damage the restaurant, but the water coming down from the second floor did and a health inspector has been called to take a look at the situation.

Gemmill says the cause is still being investigated, but he notes hoarding was an obstacle in fighting the fire.