AMHERST - Almost 30 residents were displaced Monday night after an apartment caught fire.
Firefighters returned to the Amherst Fire Department at midnight, and fire chief Greg Jones says nobody was hurt and nobody was taken to hospital.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and Jones says they hope to determine the cause by late Tuesday morning.
Penny Henneberry of the Canadian Red Cross was at the fire station as well.
She says 29 people were displaced by the fire and about 20 of those people are staying with friends and relatives, while the rest are staying at the fire hall.
The fire started Monday at about 8:30 p.m., and was contained to an apartment on the second floor. Although the fire didn’t spread, smoke could be seen throughout the building.
“My daughter and me had gone to the store and we just pulled in, and the apartment below ours was on fire,” said Darlene Melanson, who lives on the third floor directly above the fire.
She ran into the apartment before firefighters arrived on the scene.
“I had to run in to get my dog out, and there was smoke everywhere. The whole back of the house is gone,” she said. “We lost everything. I’m a single mother and I lost everything.”
Witnesses at the scene say a single male occupied the second floor apartment that caught fire.
The apartment’s maintenance man says everybody got out safely.
“Nobody will be allowed back in tonight,” he said.
He estimates that 16 apartments are currently being rented inside the apartment building and hopes people will be able to return to the building on Tuesday.
Melanson was still looking for her cat as firefighters were putting the fire out.
Just as she started to cry about not being able to find her cat, a firefighter carried a fluffy white and grey cat from the apartment building. Melanson ran across the street but, unfortunately for her, it wasn’t her cat.
Another person stranded outside her apartment was Kristie Porter. She has a five-year-old daughter, a three-year-old son, and another baby on the way.
“I just set up all my baby stuff,” she said.
They were watching a movie when they heard sirens.
“We thought it was the movie,” said Porter.
A friend ran downstairs and came back up to tell them the fire department was there.
Porter scooped up her kids and her dog Hydro, and exited the building safely.
Asked when the people who have been displaced will be allowed to return to in their apartments, Henneberry says several factors come into play.
“The fire has to be assessed, and once the fire inspection is done the insurance company will investigate, and then it’s up to the owner to decide when they can return to their apartments,” she said.
She says the insurance company is on the way to the scene and says the process can, depending on the situation, happen quite fast.
“We hope they will back in their apartment Tuesday but you just never know.”
Both Henneberry and Jones say it appears all pets were rescued.
“We were able to get in and get the cats, and CARMA (Cat Rescue Maritimes) stepped in and brought some cat carriers for the cats,” said Henneberry.