Overnight fire on Belmont Street in Cornwall

Fire ripped through the upstairs of this multiplex apartment building at 321 Belmont Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – An overnight fire on Belmont Street in the city’s east end has destroyed an upstairs unit of an apartment building and displaced other tenants.

Cornwall firefighters, police and paramedics were called to 321 Belmont Street around 3:30 a.m. for a structure fire.

Three windows in the upstairs unit of the multiplex building – possibly three or four units – were smashed out and black soot covered the white siding all the way to the roof.

An aquarium was sitting on the front lawn of the home, which neighbours say had housed pet hairless rats kept by the tenants.

Neighbours say the building has been in deplorable condition. “They should tear the place down,” one said.

“The CCPS assisted with traffic control, closing a section of the street between First Street and Walton Street, which has since been reopened to traffic,” police spokesman Stephanie MacRae told Cornwall Newswatch.

Around 9 a.m., the Canadian Red Cross was on scene to help tenants displaced by the fire.

While no official cause has been released by the fire department, a neighbour believed it had been started by illicit drug activity.

In a phone message to Cornwall Newswatch Monday (Sept. 17) morning, a man claiming to be the upstairs tenant, said that he and his girlfriend were away at the time of the fire and they lost a dog in the flames. The man, who didn’t leave his name, disagreed with claims from neighbours about any drug activity. “I can assure you that it wasn’t from that,” the caller said.

Siding around an upstairs window is covered in black soot after a fire ripped through the a unit at 321 Belmont Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. The fire has displaced some residents. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)
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