First Street apartment fire leaves five homeless

Five residents have been left homeless after a fire Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 at this First Street East apartment complex. The cause of the fire is under investigation. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Five residents of an apartment complex on First Street East have been displaced after a fire in an upstairs hallway of one of the units.

Cornwall firefighters, police and paramedics were sent to the four-plex in the 700 block of First Street East, between Millville Avenue and McConnell Avenue, at 12:38 p.m.

“The fire was contained to the fire unit, which is located upstairs. There were (fire) extensions to the attic throughout the entire structure. The four-plex received water damage as a result,” Platoon Chief Pierre Baril told Cornwall Newswatch.

The water damage was extensive as streams of water could be seen pouring out of the upstairs unit to the porch of the apartment below.

Water pours from the outside wall of a second storey apartment unit on First Street East after a fire on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. An air exchanger had acted like a chimney and was was sucking the smoke out of the building, leaving some tenants unaware the building was on fire. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)
Water pours from the outside wall of a second storey apartment unit on First Street East after a fire on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. An air exchanger had acted like a chimney and was was sucking the smoke out of the building, leaving some tenants unaware the building was on fire. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Baril said two people were in one of the apartments while a third was in the unit where the fire started, but they were unaware of what was happening.

“The fire had burnt its way into the attic space which, most of the smoke was going into the attic space through the venmar unit (an air exchanger) rather than make its way around the unit itself,” Baril explained.

Baril said the air exchanger acted like a chimney to suck all the smoke out of the building, leaving the residents inside unaware of what was happening.

“We managed to assist them in getting out of the building and then we made an aggressive interior attack and the guys were able to get the fire under control fairly quickly,” Baril said.

The exact cause of the fire, which is believed to have started in the hallway between a bedroom and the kitchen, is under investigation.

There were some pets in the building and all have been accounted for, Baril said.

The Red Cross is helping out with the displaced residents.

There were no injuries and no one required medical attention from paramedics, the platoon chief said.

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