Pets rescued as house goes up in flames

Joe Gibbons
Published on June 30, 2014

There were some frantic emotions outside 400 Empire Avenue over the supper hour Monday as smoke and flames billowed from the rear of the burning home.

There was one person inside the home at the time of the fire. The initial report is that she was a bit shaken up but had no physical injuries. She was given oxygen by Eastern Health paramedics on the scene as she sat on the sidewalk in front of the Crosstown Hair & Tanning salon next to her home and was later wheeled on a stretcher to an awaiting ambulance to be taken to the Health Sciences Centre for further medical treatment.

The homeowner watched frantically as a passerby - Ryan Collins - and a neighbour saved her pets and they awaited the arrival of firefighters.

"I was driving by and saw the smoke coming up and it looked a lot worse than a barbecue fire. So I pulled over and I saw them yelling that there were some cats inside,” Collins told reporters."We grabbed the cats and they were less than enthused about being put into a hockey bag. I didn’t hesitate because I have animals too. You can replace other big things, but you can’t replace the animals”.

There were three cats and two dogs inside the burning home and all were rescued. Collins’ only injury was a few cat bites on his lower right arm that paramedics bandaged up for him on the scene.

St. John's Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) Supt. Derek Chafe said he could see the smoke billowing up into the sky as he headed out over Columbus Drive enroute to the fire.

“At approximately 6:40 p.m. we received a call of for a house fire here on Empire Avenue and as the crews were arriving they witnessed smoke and flames coming from the rear of this home here behind me,” he told reporters after the fire had been knocked down. "They were able to get at the fire quickly and knock the fire down and they had it controlled in a very short period of time.”

A crew from the Kenmount Fire Station was tending to a brush fire on Beothuck Street when the fire broke out and crews from the West End, Central, Brookfield Fire and Kent's Pond fire stations responded to the scene. Chafe said firefighters checked that no fire had extended up into the attic area or down inside the basement, saying the rear of the home had received extensive fire, smoke and water damage.