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Harsh weather conditions the likely culprit in two afternoon fires

Pedestrians are seen crossing Granville Street in downtown Vancovuer, B.C., on Wednesday, December, 19, 2012. A heavy snowfall warning has been issued for the city.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A garage fire forced the evacuation of the 5200-block of Granville, after authorities were alerted that the blaze could be engulfing hazardous materials, according to Vancouver fire Cpt. Gabe Roder.

An electric pole fell onto a garage — likely attributable to weather conditions — and sparking a fire at about 2:30 p.m.

A person who spoke with the owner of the garage informed authorities that the materials in the garage could be toxic, and neighbours were afterwards evacuated out of concern the blaze would make the materials airborne, Cpt. Roder said.

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The fire was put out at 5:30 p.m., but the electricity is still coursing through the pole, he said.

Hoses stretched across the intersection of Granville St. and West 37th Ave, blocking traffic for several hours during the incident.

Residents are being let back in their homes.

Meanwhile, at 2:30 p.m., a fire occurred in the Louie Brier retirement home and hospital on the 1000-block of West 41st Avenue.

The blaze, starting in the electrical room was contained inside.

No residents had to be evacuated, according to Cpt. Roder.

Harsh weather conditions appear to be what started the flames, he said.

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Investigators are still on scene, and continue to investigate the cause.

During the day, the fire department responded to nine electrical wires that were downed from snow and wind, he said.

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