Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fire at Arlington Bed & Breakfast

[Last Wednesday's lengthy pedestrian pushbutton post was followed by a Walk Ottawa meeting in the evening, where all two hours were spent grilling two of the City's traffic operations managers about pedestrian signals, and I think we could use a break. So no Peds on Weds post today.]

On Monday night, the power went out in much of the south-west section of Centretown (roughly 417 to Gladstone, Bank to Bronson), which was the first indication to many that something was amiss. To my recollection, this is only the second time this section of Centretown has lost power in the six years I've lived on Gladstone.

After hearing fire trucks go by and checking the Twitter feeds of Ottawa Fire Services Public Information Officer Marc Messier and Ottawa Citizen reporter Meghan Hurley, I quickly learned that there was a raging fire at 511 Kent Street, the Arlington Avenue "Bed & Breakfast":

A big crowd of neighbours were out watching the flames still shooting from the roof, likely motivated by the power outage and Summer-like weather at sunset. Police closed off Kent Street and Arlington Avenue in the two blocks in either direction on both streets. Here a firefighter is near the top of Ladder 13, which is extended between 511 Kent and the next house up.

Unfortunately, I suppose you could say, I've been to the scene of many fires in Centretown over the last few years. And while Twitter is known for fast response, I've often gotten there before anyone's tweeted an explanation of what's going on, just by listening for and following the sirens.

Despite usually arriving on scene before seeing it mentioned on Twitter, I don't recall ever getting to a fire while flames were visible. At Monday's fire, flames were still visible when I left a full ten minutes later. This suggests this fire was a particularly bad one, and the Citizen reports that police have confirmed arson as the cause.

Despite the "Bed & Breakfast" disguise, apparently 511 Kent operated as a ten-unit rooming house. Firefighters performed a thorough search of the building for people trapped inside, but luckily everyone got out. One man was rescued from the third storey balcony on the Arlington side, against which one of many ladders is leaning here:

In addition to the many other fire vehicles from many stations, and the Fire Chief's black Dodge Charger, Somerset Ward's own Ladder 11 was on the scene, working at the back of the house on the Arlington side.

As it turned out, this detour made me late for a DCA planning committee meeting on Preston Street, and on my way to the meeting I passed by Fire Station No 2, home of Ladder 11:

The Citizen has more photos of the fire.

Damage was estimated at $400,000, one person was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, and all 10 residents of the house have been displaced.

So far I haven't heard of any funds or campaigns to help out the people affected by the fire. If you know of any, please share it in the comments section.

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