Tamara McKinnon thought it was odd to see smoke coming from an Amherst home early Wednesday morning.
She and her friend were driving home from a downtown convenience store at around 3:30 a.m. when they saw the smoke.
“I saw the smoke and thought it was early for someone to have their furnace on or to have smoke coming from the chimney,” McKinnon told the Amherst News. “When I looked closer, I could see the flames and we immediately called 911.”
The Amherst woman also checked on adjacent buildings and could see people coming out, otherwise she would’ve pounded on their doors.
“I was relieved to see lights on and people coming out,” she said. “I think one of the buildings had a family with young kids. Everyone got out.”
Amherst fire chief Greg Jones said the department received the alarm at that time and discovered the house fully engulfed upon their arrival.
“We received the call that it was fully engulfed and as we arrived on the scene we could see that it was fully engulfed,” the chief said.
The fire destroyed the vacant, two-storey Amherst home at 97 Church St. The building was a duplex-style apartment with a unit on each side of the building.
At the height of the fire, flames were shooting more than 10 metres into the air. Three hours after the alarm was turned in smoke from the fire could still be viewed several blocks away from the scene of the fire.
Fire departments from Sackville, N.B. and Truemanville also responded and there were approximately 60 firefighters on the scene along with all the Amherst department’s trucks.
Nova Scotia Power was called in to turn off electricity to the home and Heritage Gas was called in to turn off the natural gas in the area.
Firefighters battled the blaze from the outside – including from a ladder truck – and inside the structure.
Heavy damage could be seen on the outside walls and the inside of the building.
The fire was mostly knocked down by about 7 a.m. By then, the roof at the front of the structure was gone.
Jones said a cause has yet to be determined.
There were no injuries.
During the fire Church Street, from the YMCA parking lot to Clifford Street, Robie Street and Havelock Street, from Agnew Street to Robie Street, were closed to all traffic.
It was the second fire in less than 24 hours for the department. On Tuesday, firefighters responded to a fire that heavily damaged 35 Elmwood Dr.
No one was physically injured in that fire, which is still under investigation.
Jones said the two fires were not connected.