UPDATE: Displaced residents still wondering when they can return home
More than 100 residents displaced by Sunday afternoon's fire at the Parkland Place apartments were still wondering Tuesday afternoon when any of them could return to their homes.
A meeting after press time at the Island Savings Centre where many of the residents were being temporarily housed was going to determine if that was feasible.
"They weren't able to go back yesterday,'' said Emergency Social Services manager Sybille Sanderson Tuesday. "We're hoping about half of them will be able to go home by this evening.''
People and pets were all evacuated or removed safely following the fire at the apartment block on Dobson Road in Duncan.
There was some concern about finding the owner of the unit on the third floor where the fire started, who was not home at the time, but he was located about 45 minutes after firefighters arrived.
"Everybody's accounted for now,'' said Duncan Fire Department chief Mike McKinlay.
"From what I understand, all pets are accounted for.''
The Duncan Fire Department got the call at about 3:20 p.m. and mutual aid was quickly called in from the North Cowichan South End hall, as flames were initially shooting out from the building.
Duncan had 22 members on the scene on its four trucks and North Cowichan also attended with four trucks.
Firefighters quashed the flames fairly quickly when they arrived on the scene but smoke billowed out from the building for a considerable time.
Several units sustained water and smoke damage at the south end of the building. Units 330 and 440 were the hardest hit.
"I would say there's eight, possibly 10 or more units that are going to be out of service,'' said McKinlay.
Firefighters remained on the scene for several hours Sunday night. McKinlay said it was 10 p.m. before he got home and he was back there Monday morning for further mop-up.
McKinlay and City of Duncan Bylaw Enforcement Officer Dave Hewitson intended to launch their investigation into the cause of the fire Tuesday morning.
The priority was to get as many residents back into their units as possible.
"What we're hoping to do is get this building up and running and get their life back in order,'' said McKinlay.
Emergency Social Services was providing temporary housing for those in need at the Island Savings Centre.
"Unless they have places to stay, that's where they're going,'' said McKinlay.
It was clearly the most spectacular fire in the city in many years.
"I think the last one that was close to this was the Gala Vista,'' said McKinlay of the October 2012 fire there.
The evacuation of Parkland Place went smoothly without any harm to residents. Firefighters also escaped injury despite a very dangerous situation.
"I got a few sore shoulders and a few achy bodies,'' said McKinlay of his crew.
Some pets were alarmed at what was happening, but were removed unscathed. One dog bit a firefighter.
"There's a few upset ones we took out,'' said McKinlay.