Sunday, May 19, 2024

Arson unit investigating highrise fire that sent 3 to hospital in critical condition | CBC News

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The Ottawa police arson unit is taking over the investigation of a fire at a Donald Street highrise that sent eight people to hospital Thursday morning, including three with life-threatening injuries.

Emergency crews were called to the building in the city’s Overbrook neighbourhood around 6 a.m.

Two children and a woman are in critical condition after inhaling smoke and suffering other injuries, said Marc-Antoine Deschamps with Ottawa paramedics.

Five others were taken to hospital in stable condition after suffering injuries ranging from mild smoke inhalation to an exacerbation of their pre-existing conditions, Deschamps said. Another six people were treated at the scene.

By mid-afternoon, Ottawa police said the fire had been deemed suspicious.

Fire started on 3rd floor

The fire broke out in a third-floor apartment and the people were rescued from the hallway, Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Nick DeFazio told CBC.

Karishma Rahmani had to take shelter on a neighbour’s fifth floor balcony because thick black smoke prevented her family from making it out of the building. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The fire was under control by 7 a.m. and fully extinguished by just before 10:30.  Multiple residents have been displaced, DeFazio said. The Salvation Army has been called in to assist.

Ottawa Fire Chief Paul Hutt said around 200 people are affected. It’s unclear when they may be able to return home.

‘I was scared’

People who have been displaced are being asked to meet at the Overbrook Community Centre, Hutt said.

“It’s very stressful,” said Beacon Hill-Cyrville councillor Tim Tierney whose ward encompasses the Overbrook neighbourhood. “It’s probably one of the more needy communities and we’ve got to ensure we protect them as best we can.”

Mahsa, an 11-year-old who lives on the 11th floor of the building, spoke to CBC on behalf of her family because of a possible language barrier.

Her family made it part of the way down the stairwell shortly after the fire alarm began sounding throughout the building, but they only made it to the fifth floor before the smoke and odour halted their progress.

“We couldn’t go down anymore because it was very bad,” Mahsa said. “I was scared and it smelled very bad.”

Fire trucks in front of an apartment building.
A two-alarm fire was declared just after 6 a.m. Multiple people have been displaced, according to Ottawa Fire Services. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Karishma Rahmani was asleep on the seventh floor when her mother woke her up to tell her there was a fire in the building.

“When we opened the door, it was all smoke and we could not see anything,” Rahmani said.

Her family was also prevented from descending below the fifth floor due to the thick black smoke. Rahmani said her family planned to head to the community centre to figure out where they’ll be able to go next.

Ottawa police are warning drivers to expect significant delays in the area of St. Laurent Boulevard and Donald Street. Donald is closed east of St. Laurent and OC Transpo is detouring bus routes 20 and 27.

Ottawa Fire Services and the Office of the Fire Marshal are assisting police in the investigation.

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