New Brunswick·Video

Townhouse fire in Saint John forces 21 children, 7 adults from their homes

Twenty-one children and seven adults have been forced from their homes after a major fire broke out in Saint John's north end Tuesday evening. 

Red Cross volunteers arrange emergency housing for four families

Twenty-one children and seven adults have been forced from their homes by a major fire in Saint John's north end Tuesday night. 1:30

Twenty-one children and seven adults have been forced from their homes by a major fire in Saint John's north end Tuesday night. 

The fire broke out at 37 MacLaren Blvd. in the multi-unit townhouse where the four families lived.

No one was injured.

"It's a very frightening episode," said Anne Driscoll, executive director at Crescent Valley Resource Centre, a nearby nonprofit organization that provides programs and services for residents in the area. 

The fire broke out at 37 MacLaren Blvd., a multi-unit town house in the north end of Saint John. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

The townhouse in the Crescent Valley area is owned by the Department of Social Development.

Driscoll said some of the families in the house are newcomers to Canada. 

"People are kind of in shock about it."

Dan Bedell, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross, said volunteers with the agency have arranged emergency lodging and meals for the four families, which consist of nine, eight, six and five people.

"Additional help will be provided for other emergency needs like clothing where required," Bedell said in a news release. 

Flames and smoke were coming from the roof

Twenty-one children lived in the townhouse in the Crescent Valley area. (CBC News)
Saint John fire platoon chief Josh Hennessy said the fire broke out shortly before 8:30 p.m.

When crews arrived on scene, flames and smoke were coming from the roof. 

It took about six hours for the 36 firefighters to get the fire under control.

Fire investigators were still on scene Wednesday afternoon trying to find a cause. 

Hennessy said much of the fire damage appeared to be in the roof, but the walls and floors saw quite a bit of water damage.

The fire broke out shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and about 300 people watched as firefighters worked to put it out. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

About 300 people watched the fire from the street, and one was taken to hospital, Hennessy said.  

"It was a very hot evening."

Driscoll said the Department of Social Development is trying to find new homes for the families.

She said people living in the city have already started calling to ask about donations. Right now, the families are trying to determine what they lost and what they will need.

"We're just thankful everybody is safe," she said. 

8 people forced from south end fire 

Meanwhile, eight people were forced from their homes at a three-unit apartment building in the south end of the city.

The fire broke out at 78 St. James St. at around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

One person suffered smoke inhalation. Two cats died from the blaze.

A second fire broke out on St. James Street on Wednesday morning, sending one person to hospital. (CBC News)

The second storey saw a lot of fire damage while the main floor and basement sustained water damage. 

Hennessy said 26 firefighters responded to the fire and were able to knock it down within an hour.

The fire is under investigation. 

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