More than 20 Islanders displaced due to Stratford apartment fire
'I wouldn't be surprised if the building is a complete loss'
About 20 people have been displaced from a 12-unit apartment building on Glen Stewart Drive in Stratford, P.E.I., after it was severely damaged by fire Saturday afternoon.
Everyone made it out of the building and there were no injuries, according to Cross Roads fire captain Kevin Reynolds.
The Cross Roads fire department got the call of a "dryer fire," around 2:50 p.m., he said.
"When we pulled in on scene all three floors from the exterior were on fire. So it had spread and was going into the roof," he said.
It was not an easy fire to access.
"Once it gets into the attic space of the building — it essentially had to breach through the roof before we could get at it," he said.
Jackie Murphy, who had a two-bedroom apartment with her teenage sons in the building, said she thought at first it was a joke when the fire alarm went off.
"A woman ran out of her apartment and said her dryer was on fire and to get everyone out," she said.
"I ran in my son's room, he had headphones on, got him, grabbed my purse and we went out the door."
April Clow was at home watching Netflix in her apartment when the fire broke out - like Murphy, she thought maybe it was a prank when she heard the fire alarm.
"Within a minute there was gentlemen knocking on my door saying that his apartment was on fire and that we needed to get out of the building," she said.
Clow grabbed her car keys and ran outside with just the clothes on her back.
"That's all I got," she said. "Everything else is inside my home and it's gone."
Red Cross officials are working with tenants to find them temporary lodging.
Clow is staying at the home of a friend who is out of town for the night.
"After that I don't know. I don't have any family on the Island I could stay with," she said. "I literally have nothing. I don't know where to go from here."
She said residents are in shock.
"Everybody got out so that's the main thing. I know the stuff that is in there is just stuff," she said her voice cracking. "But for a lot of us, it's our whole life.Our kids pictures and stuff that you can't get back."
Reynolds said the fire likely started in a second floor unit.
"That's where the fire had breached the window and spread to the exterior of the building and went up into the roof space," he said.
Charlottetown and Vernon River departments were also called in and more than 50 firefighters were on scene in total, said Reynolds.
The fire damage is contained to a couple units - but the most of the roof is gone, he said.
"With smoke and water damage I wouldn't be surprised if the building is a complete loss."
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With files from Sara Fraser and Tony Davis