1 dead, more than 50 displaced after 2 Cape Breton fires

Two overnight fires in Cape Breton have left one person dead and about 50 forced out of their homes.

In New Waterford, one person died after a blaze at a seniors apartment complex, Curran Court, on Curran Street that began around 1 a.m., said Chris March, CBRM deputy fire chief and acting Emergency Management Organization (EMO) manager.

March said he'd been told the residents were gathered in one room at the opposite end of the building from where the fire was located, so the heat and light were still working.

"I don't believe at this point that the building was a loss, but it was a serious fire," he said.

March said the fire was out by at least 5:30 a.m., but New Waterford's fire department remained on the scene for some time Sunday.

He had no more information about the person who died.

That fire displaced about 30 residents, according to a release from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality mayor's office.

"At this time, it is not clear how extensive the damage is and how long before the residents will be able to return," Sheilah MacDonald, municipal spokesperson, said in the statement.

Residents of Curran Court were initially taken to the New Waterford fire hall about a kilometre away, according to a release from Red Cross spokesperson Dan Bedell.

He said some people were picked up by relatives while others are being assisted by the Cape Breton Regional Housing Authority for emergency lodging, and by Red Cross volunteers for other emergency needs.

In Sydney, March said 11 people lost their homes when a fire broke out in a Charlotte Street building around 9 p.m., requiring it to be torn down.

No injuries have been reported.

Steve Andrews of Rising Tide Tattoos, located in the bottom of the Charlotte Street building, posted photos and video of the fire on social media. One shows the store in complete rubble after it had been torn down.

"It was a great shop with enough character for two, and we'll miss her greatly. We firmly believe that these things always have a silver lining, and we're all staying pretty positive about the whole thing," Andrews wrote.

He specifically thanked all the firefighters who worked not only to keep the rest of the block safe, but also managed to get work stations from the shop out of the building.

"We are eternally grateful for your thoughtful actions, and know you have done us a tremendously unforgettable solid," Andrews said.

He added he hopes to find a new spot for the shop in the Sydney area soon.

The Charlotte Street fire caused another 11 people in a neighbouring building to be temporarily displaced from their residences. It is expected they will be allowed back in their apartments later on Sunday.

Bedell said Red Cross volunteers arranged emergency lodging at area hotels for 13 international students from Cape Breton University. Those include the 11 who lived in the Charlotte Street building which was destroyed, plus two from the adjacent building for safety reasons.