South end residents trapped in highrise blaze

A 32-year-old man is in hospital in serious condition following a highrise blaze in the south end Sunday.

It was one of four fires that kept crews hopping from Saturday evening through Sunday.

Firefighters rushed to 2870 Cedarwood Dr., in the south end, at 5:21 a.m. after a cop in the area saw the fire and pulled the alarm.

“We had people trapped on the 15th floor who couldn’t get out in the hallway,” Ottawa Fire Capt. Robert Leclaire said. “So we had lots of smoke, fire.”

They remained in their units or on balconies, he added.

“They were fine.”

The man in unit 1508 — where the blaze broke out in the living room — suffered burns to his hands and smoke inhalation, paramedics confirmed.

“We found him on the front lawn,” said Leclaire.

The fire was contained in that unit, although smoke damaged the hallway and wafted into neighbouring units.

OC Transpo buses sheltered residents who had a “very rude awakening,” said Mandi Aubin.

“I was looking down (from) my balcony. I had a cop telling me, ‘get down here, get down, come downstairs,’ you know, ‘there’s a fire.’” Gazing up at the top floor, “you could see them, looking out from their balconies waiting for help.”

The experience was “weird” for Aubin, a first-time apartment dweller.

“It’s only been a few months and this happens. I don’t have an emergency bag packed, I never did this before,” she said. “Definitely lesson learned.”

Fire alarms regularly go off in the building, said Aubin.

“We have so many fake calls that you never think it’s going to be real.”

Abraham Martinez, 12, concurs. “Last year was really bad — almost every day,” he said.

Martinez, his mom and younger brother were awakened by alarms around 5:30 a.m.

“I was worried. We have a kitten up there and we couldn’t bring it ’cause she was too scared, so she was under the bed,” said Martinez.

An elderly woman, 70, from a 15th floor unit was also taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

Damage is estimated at $250,000 and the cause remains under investigation.

Another blaze at 1608 Landel Dr. caused $30,000 in damage Saturday evening.

A third fire, in the garage at 86 Amberwood Cres., caused $150,000 in damage and the cause remains under investigation.

Finally, just before 5 p.m., on Sunday flames broke out at 5029 Nicolls Island Rd. Residents called 911 but had managed to extinguish most of the flames before firefighters arrived.

There were no injuries in this fire. The cause and damage estimate have yet to be determined.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/07/21/south-end-residents-trapped-in-highrise-blaze

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