A firefighter leaves the building at 5100 Tebo Avenue that houses Jericho Road Church, Literacy Alberni and École des grand-cedres francophone school, mid-morning Nov. 27, 2020. A fire in a residential unit on the second floor caused sprinklers to activate in the early-morning hours. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Sprinklers contain small fire in second storey of Port Alberni church complex

Water damage forces temporary closure of building

  • Nov. 30, 2020 12:00 a.m.

A small fire in a second-storey apartment forced temporary closure of the Jericho Road church complex on Tebo Avenue in Port Alberni, Friday, Nov. 27.

Port Alberni Fire Department received a call shortly after midnight that alarms were ringing in the church, deputy Chief Wes Patterson said.

The sprinklers had been activated and there had been a small fire in a bedroom in an apartment on the second storey of the complex—the former offices when the building was Klitsa School. The apartment has a separate entrance from the rest of the building.

“There were three people at home at the time and all were able to get out (without) injuries.

“The sprinkler did its job very well and contained the fire to the room of origin,” Patterson said. One of the residents attempted to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher before the sprinkler kicked in and did its job. Smoke damage was limited, but water damage was extensive, he added.

École des grand-cédres francophone school and Literacy Alberni closed for the day as power was cut to portions of the building. Fire crews were back in late morning on Friday when the alarm system was tripped again, but Patterson said it was a false alarm.

Patterson said the cause was undetermined, although it did start in the area of a mattress in a sleeping area upstairs. “The occupant wasn’t in the room at that particular time,” he added.

Pastor Mike Watson said the church foyer suffered water damage, and people could be seen bringing items out of the sanctuary on Friday morning.

Watson thanked the community publicly for coming to the church’s aid. He anticipated tenants in the building such as the school would be back in operation as usual by Monday.

Another structure fire took place on Saturday, Nov. 28—this one in a residence in the 4900 block of Elizabeth Street. Patterson said the fire appeared to have started in the attic.

“We were able to contain the fire to that area,” he said.

Although the attic had some smoke and fire damage, the rest of the house escaped relatively unscathed. There were no injuries.

susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberni Valley News