Fire­fight­ers bat­tle freez­ing con­di­tions as fire rav­ages apart­ment com­plex

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

KENTVILLE (CP) — Four fam­i­lies lost ev­ery­thing but their lives Satur­day when fire ripped through their apart­ment build­ing.

The blaze de­stroyed the cen­tury-old River Street home that had been con­verted into apart­ments.

Flames were shoot­ing out of the roof when fire­fight­ers ar­rived on the scene at 4 a.m., said Kentville Fire Chief Shawn Ri­p­ley.

It took fire­fight­ers five hours to bring the fire un­der con­trol.

“Be­cause of the cold tem­per­a­tures and high winds, ev­ery­thing that could go wrong went wrong,” Ri­p­ley said.

Wa­ter had to be trucked to the scene be­cause nearby fire hy­drants were frozen. The sub­zero tem­per­a­tures caused fire hoses and pumps to freeze.

The bit­ter cold also took its toll on the fire­fight­ers bat­tling the blaze.

The fire burned off part of the build­ing’s roof and gut­ted the sec­ond and third floors. The first floor re­ceived se­vere smoke and wa­ter dam­age.

De­spite the de­struc­tion, “we saved two cats and two birds in cages,” Ri­p­ley said.

Red Cross vol­un­teers, work­ing with mu­nic­i­pal emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials, es­tab­lished a com­fort cen­tre at a nearby com­mu­nity cen­tre where the ten­ants could wait and stay out of the cold.

The Red Cross also ar­ranged emer­gency mo­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions for one cou­ple and pro­vided as­sis­tance to a sec­ond cou­ple who chose to stay with friends.

The fire chief said the owner of the build­ing had va­cant apart­ments that he made avail­able to the other ten­ants.

None of the ten­ants had in­sur­ance, but the fire chief said he be­lieved the build­ing’s owner did.

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