Fire in Petrolia, Ont. displaces residents

An early morning fire on Greenfield Street in Petrolia caused residents to scramble to safety Friday morning.

“Everybody was running around trying to get out of the apartment to get saved and it was chaos,” said Chris Preston, who lives in one of the apartments.

According to Fire Chief Jay Arns, the blaze started outside the building on the lower level of the two story walk-up.

“Crews arrived on scene and we had a fully involved porch area. A couple of storage rooms and some equipment that was on fire. So, quick knock down, the crews made entry right away,” he said.

The building is a community housing residence owned by Lambton County, and many of the residents were alarmed.

“As I was coming out [of the] apartment, the whole place inside was all smoky and you couldn’t really see, so I don't know exactly how it started, I didn't hear nothing or see anything or smell anything unusual. Just, it was all chaos. It was pretty, pretty scary,” Preston said.

Some elderly people on the second floor needed assistance to evacuate, according to Arns.

“We had to rescue…two people trapped on balconies. So we laddered the buildings and rescued the two people from the balconies and a large number of pets that were still inside the building,” he said.

Following the evacuation, residents were moved to the Greenwood Recreation Centre where they have been cared for since. Now, Lambton County Housing Services is hopeful that residents will be able to return to their apartments by the end of the day.

“I just did an air quality run through the building and we've got good readings all throughout. So yeah, residents will be able to get back in and now it's up to the cleanup crews to get some cleanup done. But because there was no apartments directly affected, then it should be a little bit quicker getting them back in,” said Arns.

The residents that have been displaced are just grateful no one was injured and they will be able to return to their homes soon.

“I’m so thankful for all the helpers and the fire people they really did an excellent job last night they worked hard and saving everybody,” Preston said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and a damage estimate has not been assessed yet.