Residents of a Charlottetown apartment complex that was ravaged by fire earlier this week have a city police officer to thank for keeping the difficult day from becoming much worse.
Early in the morning hours of July 17, Charlottetown Police Services Cpl. Bob Larter was patrolling Beasley Avenue when he noticed a large cloud of smoke.
Getting closer, he saw the cause: flames on the west end of an apartment building at 10 Harley St.
Larter arrived just as alarms were starting to sound.
As the shift supervisor, Larter called in the rest of his team at Charlottetown Police Services and notified the Charlottetown Fire Department before entering the building to alert the residents.
“He played a big part in saving lives,” Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell told The Guardian.
Together with other officers, who arrived within minutes, Larter carried some of the residents down the stairs to safety.
“That was the seriousness of the situation. There was no time to collect belongings,” MacConnell said.
Deputy Chief Tim Mamye of the Charlottetown Fire Department credited police assistance with the safe and early evacuation of the building’s occupants.
“We had a working structure fire when we arrived. It was fully involved at the far end… all the way up into the roof line,” said Mamye.
MacConnell gives “a lot of credit” to the fire crews’ response.
The fire destroyed 29 apartments and displaced 52 people, mostly seniors.
The Canadian Red Cross arranged emergency lodging for 16 of the tenants. The others made other arrangements such as staying with relatives or friends.
“Our community relies on us to watch over them while they’re asleep,” said MacConnell. “Cpl. Larter certainly delivered on that.”