Kingston experiences the city’s “worst fire seen” – according to the fire fighters.
The fire began at about 2:20 p.m. [Dec 17-13] at a student housing complex under construction near the 600 block of Princess Street. The building, which was vacant, was engulfed in flames. The fire had also spread to the roof of a Royal Canadian Legion villa.
A military chopper was sent to the scene to rescue a worker trapped on a construction crane. The worker became trapped on the crane when a huge blaze broke out below him at a downtown building under construction. As the fire raged, he made his way to the far edge of the crane, where the chopper eventually picked him up.
The fire spread quickly because the building was made of wood. Tuesday evening the fire had spread to buildings nearby. An evacuation zone was established and utilities are shut off to homes and businesses in the area until it’s safe for residents to return.
The conditions were horrible for the men fighting the fire, – 25 degrees and snowing outside. Over 100 fire fighting men called to the scene. Fire fighters from out of town, Nappanee, Brockville and Belleville came to support the unmanned stations in Kingston and fight the fire.
The RRT quickly responded with ample food to feed our fire fighters. Kind donations from Tim Horton’s, McDonalds and Loblaws at any time of the day or night. The RRT worked 24 hours straight, to feed our fire fighters, beginning at 8pm Tuesday evening and ending 7pm Wednesday.
A fire fighter exclaimed “We’ve never been treated this well” and Deputy Fire Chief says “You’re all very kind people, never seen anything like this”. Another fire fighter came into the tent saying “the guys back there just love you” [referring to the men fighting the fire]. The Kingston mayor, Mark Gerretsen recognized our efforts and expressed his gratitude for all we were doing.
Firefighters worked well overtime in the cold conditions. Their clothing was covered in ice. Struggling to hold onto fire hoses that were layered with icicles, and walking in knee deep water and ice, these brave people worked so hard to control the fire. 9 fire fighters were sent to hospital with frost bite. 2 fire fighters were sent to hospital with broken ankles.
2 buildings and 8 houses burned
10 houses with smoke damage
Many cars ruined
5 shifts from RRT (4 meals provided)
20 RRT members
Over 100 firefighters
By late Wednesday afternoon, the fire chief said the fire was winding down and would be taking down the warming tent that evening. Thankfully the weather conditions have improved, being -5 and wet flurries on Thursday, 44 hours after the fire had started. The fire is no longer a major threat and the crews have reduced. Thank you to our fire fighting men, a job well done, with no casualties.