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Volunteer firefighters praised for containing fire at Verona, Ont. store

Fire broke out at Toppers Convenience in Verona, Ont. on Wednesday. Witnesses reported hearing fireworks inside the store as the building burned. (Stephen Clow/CTV viewer video) Fire broke out at Toppers Convenience in Verona, Ont. on Wednesday. Witnesses reported hearing fireworks inside the store as the building burned. (Stephen Clow/CTV viewer video)

Residents in a small town north of Kingston, Ont. are praising the work of volunteer firefighters, after they managed to contain a fire in a corner store that had the potential to get out of control.

The fire broke out Wednesday in Verona, Ont., 30 minutes north of Kingston, where fireworks went off as the store burned.

Video provided to CTV News Ottawa by Stephen Clow showed billowing black smoke coming from the convenience store, with a gas station just steps away. In the video, you can hear popping sounds.

Clow says those were fireworks going off inside the store.

"What this camera on the phone picks up is nothing compared to what we heard," Clow explains. "It was almost apocalyptic at times seeing that black and the booming going off."

A fire destroyed Toppers Convenience in Verona, Ont. on Wednesday. (Kimberley Johnson/CTV News Ottawa)

The fire broke out at Toppers Convenience just before 3 p.m. Wednesday. South Frontenac interim fire Chief Alex Bennett says initial information suggests the fire began in one of the two homes attached to the back of the store, then quickly spread. 

"They were big fireworks, like Canada Day-types; they weren’t little kids in the backyard types. It was like 'boom' and going up in the air," Clow says.

The volunteer firefighters quickly worked to contain a difficult scene. The store's gas station sits just steps away, as well as propane tanks being sold by the store.

That’s something local resident Mike Collins noticed immediately.

"They bravely sat in front of a propane cage containing that," he says.

Bennett confirms there were also downed power lines and extremely dry conditions to deal with.

"We had a lot of things on our plate from the get-go," he explains. "However, we did pull a substantial amount of resources en route to ensure we had, first of all, a good water supply on things (and) manpower to conduct a safe operations on things."

There were no injuries. Local residents say three people lived in the building, and the fire was put out within a few hours with the help of Kingston Fire and Stone Mills Township. 

Collins and others in the town are praising the quick work of first responders. 

"They never backed down," he says. "They did a fantastic job. They did an amazing job of keeping it contained to one building, under extremely dry conditions."

Resident Arnold Snider says the loss of the town's only gas station will be felt by many people who used the convenience store. 

"It’s a loss to the community," he says. "And small communities can’t afford to lose businesses." 

But Clow says the town will continue to support those impacted, while the investigation continues. 

"Communities reaching out to help them out." Top Stories

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