New Brunswick

Firefighters feared possible building collapse

Saint John firefighters were pulled out of a lower west side house fire on Sunday afternoon over fears the two-storey building was about to collapse.
Saint John firefighters were worried on Sunday afternoon a fire would cause lower west side home to collapse. (Sarah Trainor/CBC)

Saint John firefighters were pulled out of a lower west side house fire on Sunday afternoon over fears the two-storey building was about to collapse.

The fire erupted on Sunday around 2:30 p.m. and Saint John residents could see its heavy smoke and flames from the city's north end .

Firefighters were initially met with heavy smoke and fire at the back of the building and the fire quickly spread to the roof and through the rest of the home.

Gerry Morris, the district fire chief, said firefighters had to be called out of the building at one point over fears the structure was so damaged that it could collapse.

"With the heavy smoke conditions, the heat conditions and the fire was showing and also we had a crew on the roof. They were opening up the roof for ventilation to let the heat off. And they reported back to me that the roof was real spongy," Morris said.

"And once they made their hole in the roof, one hole, the fire came right up through. And with the report of a spongy roof, that means the roof is settling down and it is going to collapse."

Firefighters were still searching for any possible occupants inside the building when the order was made to leave the structure.

Despite those fears, no one was injured in the afternoon fire.

One woman was living in the home and the other two units in the building were vacant.

Investigators believe the fire started in the shed area of the building but there is no word yet on the possible cause.

Morris said there is not much salvageable inside building after the fire.

Dozens of onlookers showed up to watch the Sunday afternoon fire. (Sarah Trainor/CBC)
"I believe the building will have to come down, I don't believe it's repairable," he said.

While the firefighters were quick to the scene, they were not the only ones who arrived at the Ludlow Street building.

Tammy Schmit of Millidgeville was one of the dozens of people who drove over with cameras to witness the damage.

"It's a tragedy. So much smoke and we saw the flames from the north end. It's just very sad," she said.

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