A fire at a five-unit apartment building on King Street Monday is being considered suspicious, and is now under investigation by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.
“The nature of the fire and the conditions that our crews found upon extinguishing the fire and conducting our preliminary investigation all led to a determination that we needed to bring in the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and the police service,” said Deputy Chief Jesse Oshell of Greater Sudbury Fire Services.
He said the fire started in the building’s basement, in the laundry room/furnace/storage area of the structure.
Oshell said the building’s residents told fire officials that homeless people would often come into the building and sleep in the basement. Whether that is related to the cause of the fire will be determined by the investigation.
Greater Sudbury Fire Services was called to the fire at around 9 a.m. Monday, and remained on scene until 4 p.m.
The reason it took so long to extinguish the fire was because underneath the vinyl siding was an old, 1950s-era stucco structure.
“That presents a certain fire hazard in itself,” Oshell said.
With significant fire and smoke damage throughout the building, Oshell estimates damage at around $250,000 to $300,000.
Seven to 10 people lived in the building, and they all were safely evacuated. The fact that the building’s fire and CO alarms were in good working order probably saved lives, Oshell said.
One of the building’s residents received minor injuries (smoke inhalation and minor burns and cuts to his hands) after attempting to put out the fire himself, and was treated and released from hospital.
Firefighters were also able to retrieve two pet cats that lived in one of the building’s units, and administered oxygen to one of the felines.
The Red Cross is assisting those who lived in three of the five units — two couples and a single person — with temporary housing.
“We were able to assist several of them in getting some stuff out of their apartments and get that back to them so they could at least get some of their personal effects,” said Oshell.
He said when the fire department released the scene to the fire marshal’s office Monday, they considered that the building was not habitable.