Dozens displaced by Dartmouth fire to be sheltered at local community centre

A fire at a north-end Dartmouth, N.S., apartment complex Saturday morning has displaced about 150 people and left one person dead.

Red Cross shelter has been set up at North Dartmouth Community Centre in Highfield Park

Crews were battling the fire at an apartment building on Primrose Street in Dartmouth early Saturday. (Emma Davie/CBC)

Residents affected by a fire early Saturday morning in Dartmouth, N.S., that left one person dead are being offered shelter at a local community centre, the Canadian Red Cross says.

No one is being permitted to return to their apartments at 81 Primrose St., said Nicholas Williams, disaster management co-ordinator for the Red Cross.

The fire, which was reported around 3:30 a.m., was contained mostly to some apartments on the top two floors in one wing of the four-storey, L-shaped building. But there was smoke and water damage to other units and power has been disconnected to the 80-unit building.

"We have gotten an update that no one will be able to get back into their homes tonight. We've been working with EMO to get an overnight shelter set up and as of right now, that is at the North Dartmouth Community Centre in [105] Highfield Park," Williams said. 

"So that's where everyone is going to be housed tonight and potentially for the next couple of days, depending on how the first responders deal with the fire, if they deem it safe to go back in or not."

First responders have been working with the displaced residents, one on one, to identify things they need urgently, he said.

"Some people have been able to get in and get different medications, glasses and other urgent things. People who are unable to get that stuff, we've been able to support them as well." 

Police confirmed one person is dead but have not released the age or gender of the victim.

Brian Gray, deputy chief of operations for Halifax Fire and Emergency, said another person was also was sent to hospital. He couldn't comment on the severity of that victim's injuries.

At 5:15 a.m., firefighters were called to another fire at the corner of Robert Burns Drive and Brule Street, only about 750 metres away.

Both fires are under investigation.

Temporary shelter set up

More than 60 tenants have contacted the Red Cross about potential emergency aid.

"We've been working very closely with the building managers to make sure everyone is accounted for and has been reached out to be registered with us," Williams said.

"It's looking like the shelter could have upwards of 30 people in it. That number could potentially grow, but there are a number of people who have opted to stay with family or friends. Anyone who is affected by the fire is welcome to come stay in our shelter."

The Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia is arranging emergency sheltering of displaced pets.

Brian Gray, deputy chief of operations for Halifax Fire and Emergency, said crews were expected to be on Primrose Street for several more hours. (Emma Davie/CBC)

Williams did not know how long the shelter would be in use.

"We do provide all our emergency social services out of the shelter. Beds, hygiene kits, showers,  meals."

There is also a reception centre so people can receive information and updates on the situation, he said.

The Red Cross's involvement won't stop there, Williams said.

"We will be working with the building managers to get people set up more long term or even after the need for our shelter has diminished."

He said the large number of people who need assistance is unusual for the region but the organization is prepared for larger-scale disasters.

"We have an excellent group of volunteers in HRM, trained to deal with operations like this. Although it is not something we do regularly, it is something we kind of always stay on our toes and prep for."