Lennox Street fire cause difficult to trace: fire chief

Flames creep up the backside of two buildings on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 on Lennox Street in Cornwall, Ont. The fire chief says the cause will be difficult to trace given the extensive damage and how advanced the fire was when firefighters arrived on scene. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The city’s fire chief says it will be difficult to pinpoint a cause of Sunday night’s fire on Lennox Street.

Flames ripped through two duplexes just before 5 p.m. Everyone managed to escape the fire but three dogs perished in the flames.

Fire Chief Pierre Voisine told Cornwall Newswatch he was on the scene this morning with investigators and the fire inspector.

“We are taking a look at all possibilities. This was a fairly advanced fire by the time the crews showed up so it makes our lives even more difficult in terms of figuring out what occurred there,” Voisine said.

“We will start with the origin and then we’ll try to put our finger on the cause,” he said.

Voisine said age and the layout of the two homes that were burning made it especially difficult for firefighters.

“Just look at the fuel load. There were two buildings that were on fire when the crews got there. That fuel load is extremely high. It makes for difficult firefighting because you can’t get into all exposures of that particular building. Then you have to protect all those other buildings around. That third building could have easily went up as well,” he said.

“This is exactly the reason why we need to be building better buildings to better codes,” the chief said.

The chief believes at least five people have been displaced by the fire and are being aided by the Red Cross. Community members are also collecting donations and have set up GoFundMe pages.

As of Monday afternoon, at least one of the homes has been turned over to the owner and a disaster restoration company was expected on the scene.

A portion of Lennox Street has been closed to traffic for most of the day but was expected to be open later this afternoon.