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Updated: Some apartment-blaze tenants to start heading home Thursday

Smoking in bed is the suspected cause of Friday
Smoking in bed is the suspected cause of Friday's early-morning fire that evacuated Chemainus residents from the 50-suite Pine Street complex until insurance and safety issues are settled.
— image credit: Courtesy Heather Andrews

Residents of Chemainus' fire-damaged Lockwood Villa apartment could start returning home Thursday, a regional emergency services official says.

"Nobody's getting in before Thursday," Sybille Sanderson said of 53 folks evacuated from Lockwood during Friday's early morning blaze.

Smoking in bed is the suspected cause of the 3:30 a.m. fire in a second-floor suite of four-floor Lockwood on Chemainus' Pine Street — just down the street from Mural Town's fire hall, assistant to the fire commissioner Rob Clark said.

Residents were to meet with insurance agents and other officials Sunday in Chemainus' Best Western Inn.

Tenants were evacuated from the 50-unit complex as alarms sounded, and fire damaged a man's second-floor suite.

That 61-year-old suffered minor smoke inhalation and was taken to hospital, Clark said.

"His suite is pretty well a total loss."

All other residents of the 1970s-era building, managed by the firm Meicor, were given accommodation through Cowichan region's emergency services.

"Some are staying with friends and family, some are at hotels — they're all over the place," Sanderson said.

Insurance investigation will determine exactly when folks can return to their suites in the strata-run, fully-occupied complex that received various levels of smoke and water damage.

"Health and safety is the most important thing right now," Clark said of getting Lockwood's fire-alarm system reactivated and other issues handled.

Meanwhile, he agreed firefighter response was swift with the burning apartment sitting about 100 yards from the hall.

Chemainus firefighters received pumper assistance, plus five crew members, from Crofton's hall.

A happy note saw Chemainus Bakery and Utopia Bakery donate baked goods to volunteer firefighters and the displaced residents, a paramedic said.

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