Fire tears apart community church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Flames tore through a community church and outreach center in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside late Wednesday (July 7), sending a firefighter to the hospital and displacing nearby residents.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services say they were called to the corner of East Hastings and Main streets at 9.20pm to a report of a building on fire. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found Street Church heavily engulfed in flames and smoke filling the street, Deputy Chief of Operations Brad Hesse told Black Press Media.

Hesse said the fire spread to a nearby building before crews could bring it under control.

Video tweeted by Fire Chief Karen Fry shows firefighters continuing to battle the blaze past 1 a.m. Thursday. No flame is visible, but smoke billows from the building and Fry describes it as “an ever-burning fire”.

Hesse said a firefighter was sent to hospital with unspecified injuries and many residents of a nearby SRO were moved overnight due to the level of smoke in the area.

Thursday morning, firefighters remain on site to fight persistent hot spots. East Hastings Street between Main and Columbia streets remains closed.

The injured firefighter was discharged from the hospital, according to the city’s fire inspector.

The fire is the third major to occur in the Downtown Eastside in recent months.

In April, the historic Winters Hotel in Gastown, which served as the SRO, killed two people when it burned down. Officials later determined that candles likely set it off.

Last week another fire destroyed Value Village on East Hastings Street. No injuries were reported and the cause remains unknown.

Hesse said the cause of Wednesday night’s fire at Street Church also remains to be determined.


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Norma P. Rex