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Mystery solved: Vancouver fire crews pinpoint cause of thick smoke in downtown office building

Crews have figured out the cause of thick white smoke that filled a downtown Vancouver office building on Sunday. (Vanessa Doban, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Crews have figured out what was behind the thick white smoke at an office building in Vancouver Sunday

Firefighters say oil from a generator had mixed with refrigerant, causing the smoke, which wasn't deemed dangerous

Four people were inside the building at the time, but weren't hurt

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire — except in the case of a call in Vancouver Sunday evening.

Crews responded to reports of smoke coming out of an office building on Georgia between Bute and Nicola streets in Vancouver shortly after 8:00 p.m. However, when they arrived, there were no flames.

First responders were originally left wondering what the cause could be, with no obvious culprit present.

“It was just heavy white smoke so we kind of knew we weren’t dealing with combustion down there,” Assistant Fire Chief Brian Bertuzzi says of the basement area. “But it was just the absolute density and the thickness of the smoke that took a lot of time to track down and find.”

However, the mystery has since been solved.

“There was a large amount of oil on the ground in the basement rooms, and oil had leaked from a generator and mixed in with some refrigerant, causing a massive amount of thick white smoke,” Bertuzzi explains. “It took a lot of time to track down and find just because of such a low visibility and no ventilation path for the smoke to clear.”

The smoke wasn’t deemed dangerous, and only a few people had to be removed from the building.

Georgia Street had to be closed while crews addressed the situation.