Dozens homeless after four-alarm blaze in Nepean
Published Sunday, March 12, 2017 2:20PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 13, 2017 5:54PM EDT
The clean-up and the search for a cause are undereway in that massive fire yesterday on Northview road.
Fire ripped through the units on a bitterly cold afternoon.
Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office have determined where this massive blaze started; on the balcony of one of the units, suggesting it may have been a cigarette or an electrical problem.
What is certain is that no one is getting back into the units any time soon.
It's hard to imagine there is much left in the aftermath of the fire. Many of the 32 units were engulfed in flames, including the one belonging to Maya Akra, her husband and two sons. Fortunately the boys were at a neighbor’s house when the fire broke out.
“By the time I was panicking in the house,” she explains, “all I could grab was my phone and my wallet and it was in my house, the fire was in my house. It was crazy. It's really hard because it was our home, everything was in there right?”
Everything including 5-year-old Sam's fish Nemo who he was drawing today.
“Because I like him,” Sam said, as he started to cry.
3-year-old Noah was a little luckier. His favorite stuffed animal, the one he can't sleep without, was rescued by the firefighters.
“I think firefighters at base are humans, too,” says Danielle Cardinal with Ottawa Fire Services, “and they are very empathetic and they come to these incidences and know people's lives will be disrupted so they do everything they can to help people in their time of need.”
The fire spread incredibly quickly yesterday, fueled by high winds. One tenant who spoke to CTV said that the fire was a couple doors down from her apartment when someone was banging on her door to get out. Within seconds, she says, “it was licking at the door of her apartment.
Fire investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office have determined the fire started on a balcony in apartment 5. They have no reason to believe the fire is suspicious.
“We are looking into the possibility of a carelessly discarded cigarette,” says fire investigator William Hay, “There is a presence of electrical components for the building on the balcony, so we are exploring multiple possibilities.”
Damage is estimated at between $3 and $3.5 million.
Some of the 70 or so residents will move to other rental apartments within the Minto community. Others have been helped by family or neighbours like Maria Moldovan, who took in Maya and her family the day of the fire, along with another family.
“I was trying all day long to be strong and not collapse,” says Moldovan, “I had them in our house and tried to have a family gathering, being together and giving emotional help.”
As for Sam's little fish Nemo? His father arrived to save the day, “Nemo” in hand in a glass container.
Yesterday he couldn't sleep at night, he missed Nemo,” says Firaz Ismail, “So I told him “the firemen saved Nemo and we're going to get him today” and here he is, safe and sound.”
Most of the residents had insurance but for the moment, they have lost everything. Some fundraisers are in the process of being planned and the community is collecting mattresses, toys and clothes; anything to make these residents feel at home, even without a home.