The Hamilton Spectator

‘IT WAS TERRIFYING’: Two injured in multiple-alarm fire on Dalkeith Avenue

Ontario Fire Marshal says there were no working smoke alarms in home neighbours described as rooming house


Two people remain hospitaliz­ed in critical condition after being pulled out of an engulfed east Hamilton home early Tuesday morning.

Emergency services responded to the two-and-a-half-storey residence at 8 Dalkeith Ave., between Ottawa Street North and Rosslyn Avenue North, around 1:15 a.m. for reports of a multiple-alarm structure fire.

First-arriving fire crews were met with heavy smoke and flames billowing out of the home’s upper levels, Chief Dave Cunliffe said in a release. That included fire coming from the third-floor dormer on the west side of the property, with flames lapping onto the roof and toward the neighbouri­ng house at 6 Dalkeith.

After it was reported there were two people still inside the burning home, firefighte­rs initiated a search and rescue, ultimately finding the pair in a rear room on the second floor, Cunliffe said. One of them was initially without vital signs.

A man believed to be in his 50s was taken to hospital in critical condition and a woman believed to be in her 40s was taken in critical, lifethreat­ening condition, with paramedics performing resuscitat­ion efforts on her while travelling in the ambulance, said Supt. David Thompson of the Hamilton Paramedic Service.

As of Tuesday afternoon, both remained in critical condition.

The fire took around 25 minutes to get under control and left damage worth around $650,000 in its wake.

It drew resources from across the city, including an HSR bus that kept dozens of nearby neighbours warm after they were instructed to leave their homes while fire crews doused the blaze.

Among them was Jesse Messervey, a resident at 6 Dalkeith, who said the sight of flashing lights on her street wasn’t surprising as she scurried onto the bus with two dogs and a cat in tow.

That’s because she’d seen them less than an hour earlier.

At 12:44 a.m., about a half-hour before the fire, Hamilton police and paramedics responded to 8 Dalkeith for reports of a medical call.

Const. Krista-Lee Ernst told The Spectator police responded to the home to assist paramedics — standard policy any time a person calls 911. In this case, Ernst said the person who called 911 left 8 Dalkeith as their address but was actually down the street by the time police and paramedics arrived.

“The person who called advised that they were walking away (from 8 Dalkeith),” Ernst said. “When we met them, they were down the street.”

As for the nature of the medical call, Ernst forwarded The Spec to paramedics, who didn’t confirm whether they were called to the home prior to the fire. The paramedic service referred the newspaper to the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) because they are now probing the blaze at the property. The OFM, meanwhile, said they couldn’t answer questions about what happened before the fire.

But the flurry of activity and flashing lights prior to the fire left Messervey thinking nothing was amiss when a firefighte­r trudged up her porch and loudly knocked on her door around 1:15 a.m.

“I didn’t think anything of it, because we’d just seen flashing lights around the house earlier,” said Messervey. “Of course, once I opened the door, I looked to my right and saw the whole top of (8 Dalkeith) up in flames. We rushed out.”

Given the heavy winds in the early hours Tuesday, Messervey said she counts herself lucky her home was left unscathed in the blaze.

“We’re right next door. It was terrifying.”

Messervey and her partner moved into their east-end home in 2020. Ever since, she said, police and bylaw officers have been repeatedly called to 8 Dalkeith for a host of issues ranging from domestic disputes to garbage piling up on the front yard.

“Police are constantly there,” she said, characteri­zing 8 Dalkeith as a rooming house with transient tenants who come and go.

The city didn’t respond to queries regarding bylaw visits to the home in time for publicatio­n.

Ernst said she couldn’t disclose the number of times police responded to 8 Dalkeith because it’s a private residence. But she noted that, since Jan. 1, there have been 20 calls to 911 made from addresses on Dalkeith Avenue, a small street that sits between Rosslyn and Ottawa Street North. Only 10 of those calls required a police response, she added.

At the scene late Tuesday afternoon, heaps of garbage bags could be seen on the driveway of 8 Dalkeith, while random items like a chest freezer and melted car tires were seen on the front porch.

While lead OFM investigat­or Russ Morningsta­r couldn’t confirm how many people were living at the home before the fire, he said there were no working smoke alarms inside.

Investigat­ors have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, with Morningsta­r saying his team continues to review the data they collected.

The OFM was expected to clear scene Tuesday night.

 ?? CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR @HAMILTON FIREDEP ON X ?? Firefighte­rs work from a ladder truck during the rescue at 8 Dalkeith Ave. Tuesday.
CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR @HAMILTON FIREDEP ON X Firefighte­rs work from a ladder truck during the rescue at 8 Dalkeith Ave. Tuesday.
 ?? ?? Debris is piled outside a house on Dalkeith Avenue after a fire early Tuesday left two people injured and over $600,000 in damage.
Debris is piled outside a house on Dalkeith Avenue after a fire early Tuesday left two people injured and over $600,000 in damage.

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