Donald Street fire estimated at $1.5 million dollars damage; no word yet on tenants returning

Donald Street fire estimated at $1.5 million dollars damage; no word yet on tenants returning
CTV News Ottawa

Damages in that Donald Street fire in Ottawa are estimated at $1.5 million dollars.

And there's still no word on when the 238 residents will be able to return to their apartments.
 
But one thing is sure: some of them will have to find another place to celebrate Christmas. Fire broke out early Wednesday morning at the 22-storey high-rise at 251 Donald Street. The Ontario Fire Marshall's Office has determined the fire started on the second floor, likely in an electrical closet, not one of the units.  It's badly damaged two of the floors and caused the relocation of the entire building.
 
Amanda Olive grabbed what possessions she could today from her smoke-filled apartment on the 12th floor.
 
“Just clothes that I needed and blankets for my mom’s and what not,” she says, as she and her mother leave the building.
 
She's thankful she can stay with her mom; it might be for a while.
 
“Now they're saying there might be smoke damage and everything,” she says.
 
Fire broke out at this Ottawa Community Housing building on Donald Street early Wednesday morning.  Tenants scrambled to escape; some had to be rescued from their balconies.  Nine people were injured.  Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshall's office were on scene today estimating the damage at $1.5 million dollars and trying to pinpoint the cause.
 
Danielle Cardinal is with Ottawa Fire Services
 
“We do know the origin happens to be on second floor,” she says, “the north side and they are looking at the implications of the electrical closet with the Electrical Safety Authority.”
 
There is still no word on when the 231 tenants will be able to return, though it will be sooner for some.
 
Mathieu Fleury is the Ottawa Councillor responsible for Ottawa Community Housing, “We're confident as soon as we get the okay from the Fire Marshall that everything is safe, that the fifth storeys and above will be able to reintegrate in a day or two.”
 
Fleury says many of the residents at the building have insurance.  It's a requirement when they sign a lease with Ottawa Community Housing, so he says their insurance companies would have put them up in temporary housing.  Those who let their insurance lapse would be put up in emergency housing at various locations around the city.
 
But some residents like Abdi Isman and his roommate James Wattson say they've kind of been left out in the cold, with just the clothes on their backs.
 
“I'm being told to call Ottawa Housing,” says Isman, “and Ottawa Housing tells us to call 3-1-1 and it's being back and forth, and I’ve been waiting here and we don’t know what to do.”
 
Ottawa Community Housing admits there has been some confusion between the city and OCH as to who was in charge, but maintains all tenants are being relocated.  It is still trying to figure out a long term plan for those who won't be coming back here for a while.