Updated: Firefighters respond to apartment building fire in Port Williams

John Decoste jdecoste@kingscountynews.ca
Published on July 8, 2014

Deputy chief: 'Temperatures in the high 20s Celsius 'an issue' for firefighters'

Firefighters from nine Valley departments, from Hantsport to Waterville and District responded to the scene of a structure fire Tuesday afternoon on Belcher Street in the Village of Port Williams.

Port Williams firefighters responded to the original alarm around 1 p.m. and on their arrival, according to deputy chief Ryan Miller, found "a working structure fire, but no flames showing" in a four-unit apartment building just west of Highway 358.

Miller confirmed the alarm was called in as a fire in the basement, but eventually, the entirety of the building, two stories plus an attic, was on fire.

He added that the building was "a balloon-frame construction," which became "a bit of an issue once the fire got into the attic."

Mutual aid was called for and supplied from Greenwich, Wolfville, Canning, New Minas, Kentville, Watervile and District, Hall's Harbour and Hantsport. Wolfville supplied an aerial ladder truck.

Click here to see a slideshow of photos from the fire.

Miller said "the heat of the day," with temperatures in the high 20s Celsius, "was also an issue." 

Not only were there nine departments at the scene, EHS paramedics "had a rehab area set up" to assess the effects of the heat of the fire plus the heat of the day on firefighters.

After a crew was finished its shift fighting the fire, they were directed to a staging area to be assessed by EHS. "If it was determined they had been at it too long, they were instructed to sit out" until they were cooled down and rested.

Miller added, "we probably had at least three more departments than we would normally have needed" to fight this size of fire, due to the rotation of the firefighters in and out of the fire scene for their own safety.

"On a normal temperature day, we likely wouldn't have needed the extra resources," he said.

As it was, no firefighters were injured or overcome by the heat, and there were no injuries among the four residents of the building, one occupant per apartment, all of whom made it out of the building safely.

Two of the residents were transported to hospital by EHS for observation, though Miller felt it was likely "more a stress-related issue" than any fire-related injury.

Firefighters remained at the scene until approximately 6 p.m., at which point the fire was "completely out. We're pumping out the basement," Miller said, "and waiting for RCMP security guards to come and secure the scene for overnight."

An investigation into the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage was expected to begin Wednesday morning - a joint investigation between the fire department, the provincial Fire Marshal's Office and Kings District RCMP.

Miller was hopeful the investigation would determine the cause of the fire, which remained undetermined as of 6 p.m.