East end apartment fire sends one Hamilton man to hospital

One man is in hospital and several pets have been killed after an early morning apartment fire on Queenston Road in Hamilton.

Sitting on the edge of a flower bed outside of his apartment building, Dan Pollock still smells like smoke. 

His arms, forehead, feet and legs still have the soot from an apartment fire on the Stoney Creek border that sent one man to hospital, and a daughter into disbelief at the loss of at least six pets, including four cats and two dogs.

"She was screaming fire," said Pollock, who lived across the hall from unit 703, the site of, what Hamilton Fire Department said was, an electrical fire called in at 5:08 Thursday morning.

"I just saw a bunch of smoke and flames coming from the kitchen I pulled the alarm got the fire extinguisher," Pollock said. 

Hamilton fire fighters received a call to this Queenston Road apartment at 5:08 a.m. Thursday morning. (Jeff Green/CBC)

Inside was a father with mobility issues, and a daughter who first went to a neighbour for help before pulling the fire alarm. Pollock said he used his shoulder to open a door to get to the father, who was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. Pollock's girlfriend, Ashley Huff, said she tried to get the daughter down the stairs away from the fire but the woman wanted to go back to the apartment to get her pets. 

"I was trying to push her down the stairs but she kept turning back around to keep running back up. She kept yelling, 'My cats are my friends,'" Huff said. "I felt awful."

Outside, Huff said, the daughter was "shaking and trying to get back in the building." Long after the flames were put out, the daughter remained with police, comforted by other family members and her two surviving dogs - a whippet and a pug.

The fire started on the seventh floor of the nine-storey Rolida Garden Apartments at 837 Queenston Road, just east of Centennial Parkway.

Claudio Mostacci, spokesman for the Hamilton Fire Department said "the cause of the fire was electrical." CBC news has learned the fire started behind a couch. The apartment has been severely damaged. Mostacci estimated the loss at $25,000.

11 units were called to the fire and contained the flames to the one unit. No further investigation is planned.

Mostacci said that electrical fires can be prevented by making sure that extension cords are not in places where people can easily step on them. He also warned that people should not "over-fuse" their electrical circuits.