Hundreds evacuated due to Abbotsford apartment building fire

Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes Tuesday as firefighters battled a large blaze in an Abbotsford apartment building.

“I just heard a lady scream, ‘Get out now!’ Once that happened, I just kind of grabbed my keys and ran out,” one witness told CTV News.

Another evacuee, Amanda Verbeke, said the situation "was insane," adding, "it just blew up so quickly.”

The fire was spotted around 6 a.m. after alarms in the building started going off.

“My neighbour said we had to run right now. There’s people trying to get out the elevator…There’s black smoke up the stairs already,” said Amber Goyer as she described her escape with her five-year-old daughter.

“Some of my neighbours are seniors. They were panicking. They din’t know how to get out,” she said, explaining that one elderly woman followed her to safety.

“I’m just happy we got out,” she said.

Fifty-one firefighters, including crews from Langley Township and Mission, were needed to battle the blaze.

“When the first apparatus were enroute they realized the fire was well involved. They quickly elevated to a second alarm and third alarm,” said Abbotsford Fire Chief Darren Lee.

“We believe it started on the fourth floor in the attic but going back to the question of fire investigation we’ll let your fire investigators figure out where it started,” he said.

“Right now the crews are working to knock down the pockets of fire in the roof and they’ve actually transitioned back into the upper floor to try and cut off the fire spread right now,” Lee told CTV News Tuesday morning as crews fought the fire.

Officials say no one was injured and everyone had been accounted for. However, many evacuees said their pets were missing. Goyer, was one of those frantically searching for her cats.

By late morning, firefighters were finding dogs and cats and reuniting them with grateful owners like Verbeke.

“We’re just so happy that the fireman found him,” she said after her cat “Gray” was returned to her and her boyfriend. Her other cat is still missing.

Meanwhile, many people escaped with only the clothes on their back.

“I have nothing,” Goyer said. “Not even my wedding ring. I’m in shock.”

Evacuees were being asked to register with emergency services by going to Northview Community Church on Downes Road in Abbotsford.

The apartment building adjacent to the one that had the fire was also evacuated. People in 160 units have been displaced.