Fire destroys Welland building
May 12, 2017
Article by: Dave Johnson
Pelham Fire and Emergency Services provided mutual aid with firefighters and its aerial truck to Welland Fire and Emergency Services on Friday May 12, 2017 at 675 King Street in Welland, ON. Friday morning. Welland had a working fire in a five-unit apartment building. Dave Johnson/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network
Investigators from Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office and Welland Fire and Emergency Services will look into what caused a $400,000 fire in Welland Friday morning.
Welland fire Chief Brian Kennedy said firefighters were dispatched at 5 a.m. for the report of a fire at 675 King Street, a five-unit apartment building, just north of Ontario Road.
“We had a quick response right from King Street … and flames were visible from the back corner of the building. An interior crew went in and found a back unit fully-involved.”
Kennedy said firefighters made an aggressive attack and were able to put out the fire in the back unit, but it had already spread due to the construction of the old building.
“The residents were able to evacuate from the building. We had one pet that (Niagara EMS) paramedics and firefighters performed rescue breathing on until the humane society came,” said the chief.
An eight-unit building to the south was also evacuated due to smoke and the fire next door, the chief said. The Niagara branch of Canadian Red Cross and Victim Services Niagara were on scene to help those displaced by the fire.
Deputy Fire Chief Adam Eckhart tweeted from the scene that houses in the area of the fire were evacuated and he was asking others nearby to close windows and doors closed to keep smoke out.
Smoke from the fire was drifting to the southwest, toward Canal Bank Road and the recreational waterway, and was visible from Elm Street and Stonebridge Drive in Port Colborne.
Kennedy said Welland fire called on for Pelham Fire and Emergency Services for mutual aid. Pelham sent its aerial, as Welland’s was out of service, and volunteer firefighterss.
“We had 42 firefighters and I think we are down to 32 now,” the chief said about three hours in to the fire, adding they were a mix of Welland and Pelham volunteers, and Welland career firefighters.
He said there was major concern that a parapet wall was going to come down in the fire, so crews were positioned in such a way that if the wall had collapsed, no one would have been in jeopardy.
“We established a collapse zone pretty early.”
Niagara Regional Police said a person originally unaccounted for at the fire been found and was safe with his family. Police said the family Bradley Nelson, 25, had asked for their help and the media’s help in locating the man.
Kennedy said the man suffered minor burns from the fire, which nearly 5 1/2 hours to put out.
Late Friday afternoon, the chief said Triple M Demolition was brought in to take down part of the building to provide safe access for investigators. He said the parapet on the front of the building was being taken down as a precaution as well. Welland Hydro was on scene to remove some wiring from the front of the building. Both hydro and Enbridge were on scene during the fire to shut off their services.
Ontario Street was in the process of being reopened as firefighters removed trucks and hoses from the street and fire scene, but King Street between Ontario Road and Seventh Street remained closed.
Kennedy wanted to thank Pelham fire for its mutual aid response with the aerial and manpower.
“We really appreciate it,” he said.
The chief also wanted to thank the owners and staff of both the Blue Star and Benedict's restaurants.
“They both provided our guys with some nutrition that was greatly appreciated.”