A multiple-alarm fire has engulfed and completely destroyed eleven townhouses in Winona, a suburban area of Hamilton.
The Hamilton Fire Department was called around 2:41 a.m. with reports of a structure fire at 49 Edenrock Dr.
David Cunliffe, chief of Hamilton Fire Department, said that the fire to a three-storey townhouse was “well involved” when firefighters arrived.
“We had fire venting from the roof and out the rear of the building,” he said.
Wind was helping it to spread quickly. The townhouses are in blocks of eight, and the fire started in an end unit, he said.
Firefighters and Hamilton police went door-to-door, evacuating people from surrounding homes. Cunliffe said that they could hear smoke alarms going off in each home.
There was “lots of activity, lots of noise, and I’m sure there were other residents that were helping those residents as well,” he said.
The fire spread to a neighbouring block of eight townhomes, and nearly spread to another before firefighters were able to stop it.
Eleven townhouse units were destroyed, and all of them had people living inside, he said. A displacement centre has been set up at a local hotel.
More than 60 firefighters were on scene, Cunliffe said. No one was injured.
There’s been a structure or roof collapse in “pretty much all of the 11 units,” he said, meaning damages could be in the “multiple millions of dollars.”
Crews will be on scene for the majority of the day. The fire marshal’s office has been called and is investigating.
Neighbours said that the street filled up with people evacuating, many in their pyjamas, and some standing in their underwear because they just ran out only wearing what they had on.
People said one neighbour got her dog out, then knocked on other doors to wake people up.
Neighbours brought water out to those standing on the street, while others took care of the kids and gave them clothes.
Flames were like ‘the end of the world’
Daisy Ding and Rain Chen live in the home right in the gap next to the ones that burned.
The gap left their home virtually untouched, while another house just a few metres away is all but destroyed.
Early this morning, Ding woke up to the sound of firefighters fighting the blaze.
“I opened the curtain and saw our neighbour’s [house] is on fire. I could see the flames everywhere,” she said.
Ten minutes later, someone knocked on the door and said they had to leave right away.
Chen said the flames were like the “end of the world.” The wind was fanning the flames, and the fire burned the vinyl on the homes next to them.
Firefighters soaked the buildings next to their home so that it didn’t catch on fire.
Ding couldn’t sleep all night.
“I’m feeling sad for the people that lost their house,” she said, adding that she can’t imagine what it’s like to lose their home.
“It’s hard for everyone. It’s a hard year, from the very beginning.”
Ding and Chen, who will be taking the day off to relax from the ordeal, said that based on what happened, they’re worried about the fire and its ability to spread between townhomes.
“That concern has definitely been raised among us. So maybe we’ll move to a single home in the future,” Ding said.