One dead, more than 50 displaced after two fires in Cape Breton
HALIFAX -- A pair of overnight fires in Cape Breton have left one person dead and more than 50 people displaced, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality said on Sunday.
In New Waterford, N.S., a fire at the Curran Court seniors’ complex resulted in the death of one person and the displacement of approximately 30 residents.
"There was a room fire at the seniors' complex, and unfortunately there was one fatality," said Chris March, Deputy Fire Chief for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. "Our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased,"
Canadian Red Cross says the fire broke out at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday.
The Red Cross says residents were initially evacuated to the New Waterford fire hall. Some were picked up by relatives, and others are being assisted by the Cape Breton Regional Housing Authority for emergency lodging, and by Canadian Red Cross volunteers with other emergency needs.
The fire was contained but New Waterford’s Volunteer Fire Department remains on the scene. At this time, it is not clear how extensive the damage is and how long before the residents will be able to return.
In Sydney, N.S., 11 people have lost their homes after a fire resulted in the destruction of a two-storey building on Charlotte St.
Red Cross says the fire broke out at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday.
No injuries were reported in the Sydney fire, which destroyed a two-storey building that houses a ground-level tattoo studio and upstairs apartments.
"Unfortunately that fire had gotten a pretty good hold of the building, and the building had to be taken down," said March. "There was a lot of renovations that had been done to the building over the years, so it was quite chopped up, making it really dangerous for the firefighters to make an interior attack."
Among the 11 people living in the apartments were a group of international students at Cape Breton University.
"We lost everything. We just only barely got out alive. Just our passports, that's all," described Godson Johnson, one of the displaced tenants.
Johnson says he and his friends from India were at home watching television when smoke filled the air.
A second building next door was also evacuated. That building houses a Subway restaurant, and apartments, causing another 11 residents to be temporarily displaced. It is expected they will be allowed back in their apartments later Sunday.
Red Cross volunteers arranged emergency lodging at area hotels for 13 international students from Cape Breton University including the 11 whose building was destroyed, and two from the adjacent building that was evacuated for safety reasons
Johnson says he and his friends are grateful for the immediate help they have gotten from the Red Cross and others, but are uncertain about what happens next, at a time when they are supposed to be staying at home due to COVID-19.
"We are international students, we don't have anything left over, so we have to get any help," said Johnson.
Support provided by Canadian Red Cross volunteers has been modified to respect social distancing and other public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.