Several injured in string of fires during brutal cold spell

Several people suffered burns, smoke inhalation and frostbite after a string of fires Saturday kept firefighters busy during extremely cold temperatures in Ottawa.

House, apartment building and Algonquin College residence all evacuated

A ladder is extended from a fire truck with firefighters standing beside the truck.
In the first of a trio of overnight fires, residents had to flee this Daly Avenue apartment complex around 2 a.m. The fires all occurred on one of the coldest nights of the winter. (Jean Lalonde/Ottawa Fire Services)

Several people suffered burns, smoke inhalation and frostbite after at least six Saturday fires kept firefighters busy during extremely cold temperatures in Ottawa.

Temperatures overnight plummeted to –31 C, with the wind making it feel more like –41.

In the first of the fires, emergency services were called to an apartment building on the 400 block of Daly Avenue just after 2 a.m. to find flames reaching the fire escape, Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) said in a release.

Firefighters checked the building to make sure everyone had made it out safely. Most residents took shelter in an OC Transpo bus until the fire was extinguished an hour later. 

A woman in her 20s suffered burns and was taken to hospital in stable condition, while a male teenager suffered frostbite after leaving his apartment barefoot and walking to a friend's house nearby, paramedics told CBC.

Students evacuated from college residence

Then around 3:15 a.m., Algonquin College security reported fire alarms were going off and smoke was filling one of the college's residence buildings.

When firefighters arrived, they found thick smoke on the first floor. Students were evacuated to a nearby building. The fire was out just after 4 a.m.

Two students and a campus security officer were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, according to a statement from Algonquin College.

One room has fire and smoke damage, the college said. Two students will be moved to another room.

A crane extends to a home with smoke coming from the garage on a snowy street.
A fire began in a garage at a home on Kittiwake Drive in Stittsville around 5:15 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 and quickly spread to the rest of the house. (Ottawa Fire Services)

Crews were then called around 5:15 a.m. to Kittiwake Drive in Stittsville, near Chantilly Gate and Sirocco Crescent, where they found flames and smoke coming from an attached garage.

The fire quickly spread to both the home and a car in the driveway, according to OFS public information officer Nicholas DeFazio.

Four adults escaped to the backyard and had to be rescued by firefighters, who broke down a fence to reach them, he told CBC. One suffered frostbite and another a small burn.

A fifth person ran out the front of the home. Paramedics said four of the five people suffered smoke inhalation.

A frog, lizard, gecko and bird were also rescued. Two adjacent homes were undamaged.

Smoke billows out several windows on the top floor of a hotel.
Smoke pours from the top floor of Les Suites Hotel in Ottawa on Feb. 4, 2023, one of at least five fires that firefighters had to battle during a brutally cold Saturday in the nation's capital. (Jean Lalonde/Ottawa Fire Services)

Fire at 22-storey hotel, ferry halted

Firefighters also had to extinguish a fire that broke out just before noon at a one-storey home on Portland Avenue just off Bank Street.

Three people will be displaced by the fire, OFS said, but no one was injured.

Then around 4 p.m. a fifth fire erupted on the top floor of the 22-storey Les Suites Hotel near the ByWard Market.

Fire crews encountered heavy smoke as they made their way up to the 22nd floor, which is currently under construction, and found mattresses and couches on fire in one of the units, OFS said.

No guests were on the floor at the time, OFS said, and no injuries have been reported. 

As of late Saturday afternoon, power had been disconnected to floors 16 and above while crews checked the building's electrical system.

Just after 6 p.m., firefighters were called to a home on Manse Street in Cumberland after a vehicle caught fire inside the garage of a house.

They were able to keep the fire from spreading to the home, OFS said. Again, no injuries were reported.

The firefighting efforts shut down the Ottawa River ferry connecting Cumberland with Masson-Angers in Gatineau, Que., but Ottawa police said it was running again by 8 p.m.