Preliminary cause in Clark Avenue fire

Three people were rescued and a fourth escaped this home on Clark Avenue in Cornwall Friday, July 7, 2017 after an early morning fire. The blaze started in the kitchen area of the home at the base of a staircase, trapping people upstairs. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

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CORNWALL – City fire investigators believe some sort of “human intervention” in the kitchen area of a Clark Avenue home started an early morning fire Friday.

Emergency responders were called around 2:30 a.m. to the two-storey building at 327 Clark, one block east of Cumberland Street.

“At this point right now, as far as physical evidence at the scene, we have determined that it was some form of human intervention. The clarity on the exact form of human intervention is not known,” said Fire Prevention Officer Morris Lamer in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

Human intervention is something that someone in the home has done either intentionally or unintentionally, for example, cooking or smoking.

Firefighters were faced with a dramatic scene of people trying to escape through windows upstairs.

“The time of day was a real factor in why they were trapped upstairs,” Lamer explained. “The fact they had working smoke alarms saved their lives, I can almost guarantee you that. Today was very unfortunate but very lucky as well.”

Blood stains on the curtains of a basement window of a Clark Avenue home tell the tale of a frantic escape by a person inside. Fire Prevention Officer Morris Lamer says the person cut themselves breaking the glass and climbing through to escape the flames. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Lamer also commended the work of firefighters who were dealing with attacking a fire while trying to rescue people.

“From the preliminary reports from the fire suppression crews, (Acting) Platoon Chief Dave Aitken and the whole crew did a great job because the first priority was rescue and they established really quickly removing the occupants. Extinguishing the fire was obviously second and it continued for a secondary search and rescue (operation),” Lamer said.

Lamer said one person was able to crawl out the front basement window, while two more were rescued by firefighters from a second-storey front window. A fourth was pulled from a side window of the building.

A red circle marks the point of origin of an overnight fire at a home on Clark Avenue in Cornwall Friday, July 7, 2017. Three people had to be rescued upstairs while a fourth was able to climb out a basement window. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Two people were treated for smoke inhalation and cuts by paramedics and later taken to hospital.

The displaced people are being housed at Nav Center.

Damage to the home is extensive in the rear while there is smoke damage throughout the building.

The back of a home on Clark Avenue in Cornwall Friday July 7, 2017 after an overnight fire. Four people got out of the house. Two were treated at hospital for cuts and smoke inhalation. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)