Fire burns upper floor of Cornwall apartment building

Emergency services at the scene of a fire in a third-floor unit of an apartment building on Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Fire has torn through an apartment on the third floor of a three-storey apartment building on Pitt Street this afternoon (Thursday).

Cornwall Fire Services, the Cornwall Police Service and Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services were called around 3:15 p.m. to 538 Pitt Street – a multi-unit apartment building immediately south of Pitt Street and Sixth Street West.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Valerie Rouleau was driving by with her son when her eyes caught “black, thick smoke” coming from the third floor.

The two circled the block and then started banging on doors and windows to get the tenants out.

“I got out of the car, he got out of the car. We started banging on windows and doors saying ‘Get out.’ Then there was more people showing up because it was getting bigger and bigger and we all did that until they (firefighters) got here. Didn’t take them long to get here,” Rouleau told CNW.

She says some tenants were oblivious to the fire above them.

“They were saying, are you serious? Oh yeah, I’m serious. Get out! You need to get out of your building, the top floor is on fire,” Rouleau explained.

A small group of tenants was standing around the Enterprise Rent-A-Car next door.

Two Cornwall firefighters check for hotspots around a third-floor balcony of an apartment building on Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. The fire caused considerable damage to one apartment unit. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Stephenson tells CNW the cause is undetermined at this time.

“Police arrived on scene first and were able to clear occupants out of the structure. Crews arrived, made an initial attack, did a great job and no extension into any other apartments at this time,” Stephenson says.

The deputy chief says the fire did some outside damage to the soffit and fascia and the damage inside is “unknown at this time as to the extent.” Flames shot through an access door to the third floor apartment and engulfed the balcony.

As for whether the tenants are displaced, Stephenson says tenants were in the process of moving out of the building. “We understand that the tenants of this apartment were in the midst of moving out and we will have to look at the extent of damage throughout the building as far as whether we have to look at evacuation of any other residents at this time,” Stephenson adds.

There were a total of 15 firefighters from both stations on scene to battle the fire.

Crews wrapped up around 4:45 p.m.

A section of Pitt Street from Fifth Street West to Seventh Street West was closed for the fire and investigation.