The City of Enderby Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner and Regional District of the North Okanagan Building Inspector posted an Order to Evacuate and a Do Not Occupy order for the residential portion of 509 Mill Avenue.
During a joint fire and building inspection of 509 Mill Avenue, following complaints of a boarding use occurring in contravention of the City of Enderby’s Zoning Bylaw, unsafe conditions were observed. These conditions placed occupants – some of whom are very vulnerable – in significant danger.
Kevin Alstad, Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner for the City of Enderby, described the building as “a hazard requiring the immediate removal of the occupants for their own safety.”
The boarding portion of the building is rented to approximately 11 occupants, including up to 4 children. There is no fire separation between any of the rooms, between the rooms and the hallway corridor, or between the sleeping area and the retail use occurring at the front of the building. There are no windows to provide a means of escape if a fire were to occur. There is no fire alarm system and no smoke alarms in the sleeping rooms. Batteries were removed from the smoke alarms that were in place. Combustible materials were piled inside of the building. Roof leakage and mold growth were observed. The ceiling of the basement and crawl space had no fire protective finish. Ceiling tiles had been removed so that additional combustible materials could be stored in ceiling spaces. Various ignition sources were observed on the premises. The conditions in the premises were in an overall unsanitary state.
The City of Enderby is working with the Enderby & District Community Resource Centre, the Ministry of Children and Families and Interior Health to ensure that displaced occupants have access to social support to help transition them into safe living conditions. Other organizations were also at the ready to add support, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
City of Enderby Chief Administrative Officer Tate Bengtson said that “The decision to post a Do Not Occupy notice and an Order to Evacuate for the residential portion of 509 Mill Avenue was difficult but necessary. It involved weighing a potential loss of life due to unsafe conditions against displacing people from their home. The risk of a loss of life was our overriding concern. However, we worked very hard to ensure that an interagency social support team was available on-site to help the occupants transition into safe living conditions.”
During the inspection of the basement, a strong chemical odour was detected. The Vernon Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials Response Team was brought in to investigate while the evacuation of the premises was occurring. Subsequent to the Hazardous Materials Response Team’s investigation, the RCMP have taken control of the scene.
Update – Media Release from RCMP
The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP attended with the [Local Assistant to the Fire Commissioner] and the [Building Inspector] to assist in the safe removal of the people living in the building at Gypsy Bazaar due to the conditions in the building.
While they were clearing the building they discovered what appears to be a small drug lab of some sort in the basement.
“Our Clan[destine] Lab Team will come and determine what drug and the potential hazards that are associated with it. The file is still being investigated,” said Gordon Molendyk, spokesperson for the Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP Detachment.
Update: The Clan[destine] Lab Team removed the equipment and chemicals from the building. They are working with Health Canada to determine what they are dealing with. This could take some time for them to determine.