Damage could top $475,000 in Petrolia fire

Dawson Currie Photo

It could cost up to $475,000 to fix the damage caused by a fire at an apartment building on Greenfield Street in Petrolia.

And the repairs could keep three tenants out of their homes for up to six months.

That’s according to Melisa Johnson, manager of housing services for the County of Lambton which owns the building.

June 23, Petrolia/North Enniskillen firefighters were called to the apartment building as neighbours saw fire coming from the roof. 

Chief Jay Arns says while the cause is under investigation, it appears the fire started on the outside of the building near the front entrance.

“There was construction going on at the building and there were materials stored on site and that’s in the area of origin.”

“It had started outside the building but crews knocked it down quickly,” he says.

Originally it appeared the fire was contained to the outside of the building and two storage rooms. But Johnson says the damage is much more extensive than thought. Three apartments, a lounge area, storage areas and an outdoor patio area were destroyed.

New living arrangements are being worked out for the three residents in the damaged apartments. Johnson says they may not be able to return for six months.

“The units are likely to take the longest to fix,” says Johnson adding delays in getting supplies and labour issues mean a longer waiting period.

And with building prices rising constantly, Johnson says it may take anywhere between $300,000 and $475,000 to fix the damage.

While there was extensive damage, no one was injured in the fire. Many of the residents had evacuated the building by the time firefighters arrived after hearing the alarms go off. 

“The building was fully charged with smoke. You couldn’t see upstairs or downstairs,” says Arns.

Two residents, he said, couldn’t find their way through the thick smoke, so they went out on their balconies where firefighters helped them down with ladders.

“It did affect the main entry … the fire was in the ceiling above the exit (on Greenfield St) so it cut off an exit for them, so they just went to their balconies and we rescued them off the balconies,” said Arns.

The residents and their pets were taken to Greenwood Recreation Centre where a shelter had been set up.

The town’s SORT team has set up cots and provided food and water as the people waited to return to their homes. The Red Cross and the OPP were also involved in the evacuation.

Johnson added the residents told her they felt the care of the community during the event with local businesses pitching in to feed them.

Arns said the cause of the fire had not been determined.