A little library that sat in the ATM vestibule at the Royal Bank on Third Avenue went up in flames Thursday night, Dec. 1, causing damage to that area of the bank.
Firefighters from Port Alberni Fire Dept. were just leaving the Bread of Life further down Third Avenue after a building walk-through when someone flagged them down and told them about the fire at the bank, fire Chief Mike Owens said.
“When we arrived on scene there was one individual that was trying to remove the little library out the door, dragging it on a carpet. There wasn’t anyone else inside the structure,” he said. The little libraries are a Literacy Alberni project, and are stocked regularly with books by members of the Rotary Club of Port Alberni. There are approximately two dozen of the libraries at indoor and outdoor locations around the Alberni Valley.
Fire had reached one of the vestibule walls and smoke extended into the bank, Owens said. Firefighters spent about an hour ventilating the space before leaving the bank in control of bank staff by 10:35 p.m. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Royal Bank fire was one of three calls of note for the Port Alberni Fire Dept. on Dec. 1, as well as the second structure fire of the day.
At 10 a.m. crews responded to a call about a vehicle that had been driven onto a lawn in the 4000-block of Rex Road after the driver suffering a medical emergency. “The individual was in their vehicle, which was running and in drive, and presumably stuck in the snow on the lawn,” Owens said. Crews were able to secure the vehicle and assist EHS with the patient.
At 1:45 p.m. crews attended another structure fire, this one in the 4300-block of Lathom Road. Smoke could be seen coming from the front door of a home as well as from the attached garage.
“There was one occupant who had tried to suppress the fire and did suffer some burns on their arm as well as some smoke inhalation,” and was subsequently taken by ambulance to West Coast General Hospital for treatment, Owens said.