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UPDATE: Man in critical condition after aerial ladder rescue in Victoria

Victoria firefighters pluck man from 10th-floor balcony Friday at View Towers

A man rescued off a 10th-floor balcony at the View Towers building Friday morning by Victoria fire crews remains in hospital, suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation, officials said.

He was transported to hospital in critical condition after being secured by firefighters using the aerial ladder and brought to the ground.

Victoria Fire Department investigators have concluded their preliminary probe into the cause of the fire, and found it to be accidental but resulting in major consequences, Deputy Chief Dan Atkinson said Friday afternoon.

It was uncertain exactly how many residents were displaced from their homes.

Smoke was seen billowing from the windows of the unit shortly after 11:30 a.m. on April 29.

As two attack teams of firefighters inside the building battled the fire, the smoke dwindled quickly.

Atkinson said the fact VFD teams train regularly at the building and are very familiar with the floor plans and the location of all the hose connections helped ensure a fast response to the blaze.

As crews fought the fire, other residents in the large building on View Street between Vancouver and Quadra streets talked about their experience.

“I was just in my bedroom and saw smoke, looked out the window and saw it billowing out,” said Derek Warner, who lives four floors above where the fire happened. He then went and knocked on the door of the engulfed unit to check on the man inside but nobody answered. He then pulled the fire alarm and got out of the building.

“I was definitely worried because there’s a lot of people in that building who have mobility issues.”

Steve Phillips was coming home from doing some work on Douglas Street, his hands still covered by yellow rubber gloves, one gripped around a bottle of cleaner, as he turned the corner and saw his building on fire.

There’s been a number of fires at the downtown apartment building in the 12 years he’s lived there.

Phillips said it seemed like the crews didn’t know the man was still inside until he appeared on the balcony, his face smudged with soot.

“I’m glad he didn’t die,” he said, dumbfounded that the rescued man was still in his unit.

The fires he’s experienced there have all been contained to the unit where they started, with the structure being concrete.

“You’re never ready for this,” he added, lamenting how he left his phone at home as he only expected to be gone for about an hour.

“I have to go to work at three o’clock, this was not on the agenda.”

READ ALSO: View Towers Fire Closes Downtown Streets (2014)

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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