Three elderly women were killed trying to escape from a suspicious fire that tore through their North Vancouver apartment, RCMP said yesterday.

Two were just metres from safety.

Most of those who did escape were alerted by an 11-year-old boy who ran through the halls screaming that the building was on fire.

Ilse Wilhelmine Dragossy, 84, was identified as one of the victims.

RCMP Const. Michael McLaughlin said one victim was found on the third floor. Two others were discovered in the first floor lobby of The Alana, a three-storey wood-frame apartment in the 100 block of East 19th Street.

“Sadly,” McLaughlin said, “it looks as though there’s a strong possibility they were trying to escape the smoke and the flames and they just couldn’t get out in time.”

The fire began Tuesday at 9:45 p.m. By the time firefighters arrived, three suites were fully engulfed.

Firefighters rescued six people from balconies at the rear of the building and prevented the fire from spreading.

Jordan Gillmore, 26, who lived in a third floor suite, said flames were shooting nine to 12 metres above the building, scorching the tree outside.

“It sounded like a freight train or a jet engine,” he said.

McLaughlin said the fire will be treated as “suspicious” but North Vancouver Fire Chief Barrie Penman said there is nothing to indicate that the fire was “malicious.”


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