'It was very scary' says resident of apartment fire

A fire at a 12-unit apartment building in the East Royalty neighbourhood of Charlottetown Monday night had about two dozen people looking for a place to sleep and was likely caused by food left on a stovetop when the power went out, according to a Charlottetown fire inspector.

Fire likely caused by food left on stove says fire inspector

'It was very scary,' says Ali Aboobakkar, holding his son Mehran, of the fire Monday night. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A fire at a 12-unit apartment building in the East Royalty neighbourhood of Charlottetown was likely caused by food left on a stovetop, according to Charlottetown fire inspector Kent Mitchell.

Mitchell said his investigation into Monday night's fire is closed. He believes food was left on the stove when the building lost power Saturday evening and when power was restored late Monday, it started cooking again and caught fire.

The fire forced out about two dozen residents who had to find somewhere to sleep, according to the Canadian Red Cross.

There were no injuries reported. The fire was contained to one apartment in the three-storey building on Westcomb Crescent, but the entire building was evacuated while the extent of the damage was determined, the Red Cross said.

For resident Ali Aboobakkar, who lives in the building with his wife and infant son, it was a scare. 

"We all went outside without taking anything," said Aboobakkar. "It was very scary. And after like two, three minutes the fire trucks came and they evacuated everything."

The family arrived in P.E.I. just months ago and said between losing power for more than 48 hours and the fire, they have had a stressful few days. 

Disaster volunteers provided emergency lodging and meals for 20 people from the building, including five children.

It was the third disaster response by the Red Cross on the Island in three days.

The agency also provided aid to two adults after a generator-related fire burned their home in Orwell, and some tenants in an apartment building in West Royalty in Charlottetown needed help when a portion of the roof blew off.

'If the power goes off, turn everything off'

"We just ask people to be really cautious of cooking and make sure their stoves are off," said Mitchell. 

The apartment building has been evacuated until the extent of the damage is determined. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"If the power goes off, turn everything off or unplug things, and then when the power comes back on you won't have to worry about that."

He said other appliances, such as space heaters, should be treated in the same way. 

He said power outages generally result in an increase in calls for fire departments, for many reasons, including candle safety, improper generator use, and debris on power lines. 

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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown