Damage at Petrolia apartment fire pegged around $500,000

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Flames shoot from the building

Most tenants back home

Most of the tenants of a Petrolia apartment building forced to leave their apartments after a fire Sunday are back home.

Around 2:40 Sunday afternoon, Petrolia/North Enniskillen and Wyoming were called to the Greenfield Street building owned by the County of Lambton when a building resident saw smoke coming from a second floor apartment.

Residents, many without coats, stood in the parking lot or sidewalks, sat in cars and ambulances or in lawn chairs provided by the fire department’s SORT Team as firefighters from Petrolia and Wyoming fought the blaze. 

Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire Chief Jay Arns says all of the residents made it out of the building safely. The unit where the fire started is destroyed. There is heavy water damage to the unit below.

Melisa Johnson, manager of housing services for the County of Lambton, says all but two residents in the affected apartments returned home around 10 am Monday.

Johnson says one tenant will have to go through insurance to find accommodation. The other tenant has been placed in a county unit.

Johnson expects it will take between six and eight months to repair the unit and anticipates it will cost $500,000 to repair the damage.

This is the second fire at the geared-to-income apartment building in a year. In June, residents were evacuated after multiple units were damaged in a late night fire. The reconstruction of those apartments was just complete with people moving back into the units this month.

Residents at the scene told The Independent fire alarms did not go off in the building until the superintendent pulled a master alarm. Johnson says a resident across the hall from the unit which caught fire heard the smoke detector going off. The key holder went to the unit saw the problem and started telling people to leave the building.

It was only when the door to the apartment was opened and smoke came out did the master alarm in the building go off.

Investigators suspect the blaze started in a couch.