Saint John firefighters douse another suspicious blaze in north end
There's increasing concern for neighbourhood safety and the safety of firefighters after another suspicious fire in the old north end of Saint John.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury fighting the most recent fire at a building was waiting for demolition, until an arsonist appears to have gotten to it first.
On Monday, north end resident Dale Dunphy watched as another building on his street is emptied and prepared for demolition.
“Yeah, I hate seeing it go,” he said. “Used to be a nice neighbourhood, nice people, but everything's gone. Everything's gone right downhill in the last few years.”
On the other side of Victoria Street, the fire department is finishing up at an overnight suspicious fire, in what was a vacant boarded-up building.
Crews arrived about 12:30 a.m. at what used to be a three-storey apartment building. One firefighter was slightly injured in a fall.
Because of its dilapidated condition, firefighters did not enter the building as the risks are too great.
“I would even suggest that the dangers are heightened or magnified for that reason,” said Saint John Fire Department platoon chief Todd Walsh. “Parts of these buildings, the interior is torn apart, floors are ripped up, so a lot of times we don't know what we're getting into.”
But crews have to prevent the fires from spreading to other homes in this closely packed neighbourhood of old wooden structures.
“If you've got a couple of dilapidated buildings next to a building where people are living, that's a huge concern for firefighters,” said Saint John Coun. John MacKenzie.
A couple of blocks away, yet another building is being prepared for demolition.
The old north end is changing fast. Many buildings, which have been vacant in some cases for years, are being demolished on almost a daily basis.
City officials say the suspicious fires further justify the demolition program.
“If you don't tear them down, they're gonna fall down or be burnt down,” said MacKenzie.
Dunphy says there are too many fires.
“They got to do something with these abandoned buildings, they gotta do something with them,” he said.
The police and fire departments are investigating this latest fire as more buildings in the old north end become vacant.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.