20 people displaced by rooming house fire in Amherst

·2 min read
Firefighters with the Amherst Fire Department work at the scene of a rooming house fire on Prince Arthur Street early Monday. (Town of Amherst - image credit)
Firefighters with the Amherst Fire Department work at the scene of a rooming house fire on Prince Arthur Street early Monday. (Town of Amherst - image credit)

A fire in a rooming house in Amherst, N.S., displaced 20 tenants early Monday morning.

No one was injured in the blaze.

The fire broke out around 3:45 a.m., according to a news release from the town of Amherst.

Greg Jones, the director of fire services, said in the news release that when crews arrived at 4 Prince Arthur St., smoke was coming out of two back doors that lead to the basement of the three-storey building.

Tenant Michael Hunter said he heard someone yelling.

"Somebody was saying there was smoke. I came running out. I went straight to the basement to try to take a look and there was so much smoke, it burned my eyes. It hurt my lungs instantly," said Hunter.

CBC
CBC

"I just ran back, screaming and yelling, kicking on doors.… It was crazy, man. It was a-crackling. It was like if I went any further, I was going to the pits of hell."

Hunter said no one lived in the basement and that it was used as a storage place and housed a furnace.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, which was mostly confined to the basement, within about 45 minutes.

The Canadian Red Cross helped 16 people with emergency housing, food and clothing. Four other tenants were either not home at the time, or had already left the scene before the Red Cross arrived.

Preston Mulligan/CBC
Preston Mulligan/CBC

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Hunter said the owner of the building had tried to sell it and tenants were given a 60-day eviction notice, effective Dec. 31, so the new buyer could renovate. But that sale fell through, Hunter said.

He said he's not sure where he'll go when his two days' emergency lodging at the hotel are over, since he's already looked for a new place due to the eviction order and hasn't been successful finding one.

"I don't know what the hell to do," he said. "I still didn't find a place for 60 days, so to cut it down to two, it's kind of rattling."

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