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The fire that destroyed 27 Bold Street1:34

Flames destroyed a historic apartment building in downtown Hamilton Thursday night.

The fire that destroyed 27 Bold Street 1:34

A raging fire has all but destroyed one of Hamilton’s oldest apartment buildings.

A fire broke out at the Pasadena Apartments at 27 Bold St. just after 8 p.m. Thursday and burned long into the night, nearly obliterating the heritage building that neighbours say is more than 100 years old.

Hamilton firefighters remain at the scene Friday morning dealing with remaining hot spots.

It destroyed 13 apartments, rendering 32 people homeless. Dorian Batycka, a writer, lived on the third floor with three roommates. He was out visiting friends and came home around 9:30 p.m. to see flames shooting out of the roof.

“You either laugh or you cry,” he said. “It’s so bizarre.

“All I have now are the clothes on my back.”

The fire started in the boiler room, said Dave Christopher, spokesperson for the Hamilton Fire Department. It quickly climbed through the walls and billowed through the roof. Flames were still shooting from the roof four hours later.

Firefighters went in the building for an hour or so, but withdrew when the weakening roof made it too dangerous, Christopher said. None of the occupants were harmed. One firefighter was treated for exhaustion.

The cause of the fire has not been determined and as a result an investigator from the Office of the Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate. Fire officials say a damage estimate is not available at this time.

'I would imagine it's trashed,' resident says

The Red Cross assisted the residents, and the city provided a warm bus for about 50 people. The neighbouring building, 31 Bold, was also evacuated.

Dave Bolf was among the evacuees next door. He was home when the fire started.

“I started smelling smoke and went outside and saw smoking coming from the basement,” he said. “Then it started billowing out of one of the apartments on the second floor.”

The heritage building, owned by the CLV Group, has a special place on the street. It’s one of Hamilton’s oldest apartment buildings, Bolf said.

“It’s a real shame,” he said. “At this point, I would imagine it’s trashed.”

Bolf said he heard that some pets had died in the fire, but Christopher believes all pets made it out safely.

Joshua Gallant lives three buildings away on Bold Street. He was sitting in his apartment and smelled what he thought was burning candles.

“I went into the hallway and it was very strong,” he said. “I looked out and could see billowing smoke coming from the building.”

'A stubborn fire,' says Hamilton fire official

Gallant looked at two apartments in 27 Bold while he was apartment hunting.

“It’s beautiful inside,” he said. “It’s a heritage building. It’s got exposed brick. It’s very spacious and has bay windows. It’s a beautiful building. It’s such a shame.”

Christopher said extinguishing the fire has proved to be a challenge. An aerial truck was on scene Thursday night as crews attempted to douse the fire from above.

“It’s a stubborn fire,” he said.

“It looks like the entire top floor of the building is gone. The roof is gone. We’re basically doing defensive firefighting.”

The apartments had claw-foot bathtubs and hardwood floors. The CLV Group site lists rents as starting at $915 per month.