Family of five unhurt, flees shoeless from New Year's Day fire in London

·2 min read

A family of five was unhurt, but their London townhouse was heavily damaged after a New Year's Day blaze ripped through it Saturday morning.

Firefighters responded about 10:45 a.m. after 911 calls came in reporting smoke and flames at a townhouse at 127 Toulan Cres., just east of Clarke Road and Trafalgar Street, platoon chief Colin Shewell said at the scene.

"Upon arrival, (firefighters) did an aggressive attack from the rear and encountered heavy smoke and flame," Shewell said.

About 10 minutes later, crews had to back out after encountering a so-called "flashover" in which the flames became too hot for firefighters to continue battling the blaze from that angle, Shewell said.

"We had to back out and we went defensive attack from the outside." The fire was under control by 11:15 a.m., he said.

The family of five — two adults and three kids, including four-year-old twins and a 12-year-old — and an additional occupant staying with them made it out safely, fire officials said. One person was assessed at the scene for smoke inhalation but no one was hurt, Shewell said.

Damage is estimated at $400,000, Shewell said. Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Residents of the neighbouring, evacuated townhouses were still waiting for approval from officials to go back to their homes.

The occupants of the home declined an interview request, but a family member said the parents and their three children were in shock.

"(They're) not good," said Tiffany Loyer, the sister of the woman who lives in the townhouse with her husband and three kids. "They have no shoes on their feet. They walked out with what's on their back and the house is destroyed."

They "have soot all over their faces," she added.

The fire left some residents in the east London neighbourhood on edge as emergency crews remained at the scene to investigate.

Amber Brady, who lives in the unit next door, said she immediately smelled smoke before police told her to leave her home.

"The cops banged on our door and told us to get out. We had to leave right away because the fire was really bad at that point," she said.

As soon as she stepped out, Brady said, the front window of her neighbour's unit was "bursting out in flames." Her two kids weren't home at the time, but she wasn't sure her cat inside would make it, she said.

"My cat is still in there and they won't get her. She's obviously not going to make it (because) the carbon monoxide is really high."

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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