Ottawa firefighters battle apartment fire in stifling heat as heat wave continues

This is day four of an extreme heat wave that is affecting much of our region. 

Temperatures hit the mid-thirties again today with a humidex value into the mid-forties;  dangerous conditions for many folks already struggling with health issues.

There's little relief from this heat if you're living in a building with no air conditioning

And for Ottawa firefighters today, it was their job to get out of the "frying pan" so to speak and into the fire.

This is not the way residents at an apartment building on Concord Street South wanted to start their holiday Monday. Fire broke out around 8:15 Monday morning, sending the 25 tenants scrambling to get out.  Fortunately, they all managed to vacate safely; firefighters even rescued several dogs and cats.

“There are 9 units,” Captain Dan Cook said with Ottawa Fire Services, “There were a bunch of cats on second floor.  We got everybody out.”

While residents watched, firefighters, working in teams, suited up and entered the building; an incredibly difficult job in the stifling heat of the day.

“Imagine putting on one hundred pounds of gear and working,” said Captain Cook, as fire crews rotated through the building, “It's tremendously stressful.”

For the folks living here, it will be some months before they will be able to return.  The fire has forced them out of their homes.

At an apartment building on Russell Road, it is the stifling heat that has forced them out, in search of a piece of shade and a hint of wind.

“Oh, it's got to be a hundred, got to be that,” says Phil Freda, who lives on the eighth floor, “The windows are all open.  What else can I say?”

Elaine Allard lives on the top floor, 11 storeys up, and says it's unbearable.

“I have osteoporosis, and he's sick person,” she says, referring to her husband, “and we're suffering. Even my fridge broke down yesterday.”

Over in Gatineau, patients at the Hull Hospital are feeling the heat.  While some parts of this old building are air conditioned, the building itself doesn't have central air. 

Pat Brennan's father has been here for a few days - just before the heat hit.

“I'm a little concerned about my father and whether he's dealing okay with the lack of air conditioning in the hospital,” he says, “So we're going to go check on him.”

The hospital has set up fans and a protocol during this heat wave, leaving blinds closed, dressing patients in light clothing and adapting the menu, offering tomato juice, for instance, instead of soup.

“It's a little warm on the sunny side,” says one man whose wife is in the ICU on the third floor, “but like I say, they're putting fans if someone asks.”

Maybe almost as bad as having no air conditioning is having an air conditioner that doesn't work.  In Kanata, Joel Larocque has several fans going inside his home after his air conditioner conked out just as the heat wave started.

“It's not great.  It's not great at all,” he says, “and I feel sorry for people who never have air conditioning.”

There is relief on the way but not for a few days to come.  In the meantime, there are some nasty thunderstorms sweeping through the area, causing multiple power outages and even knocking some trees down.