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Officials are investigating two structure fires that took place in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality on Tuesday.
Firefighters in Sydney responded to a fire at a vacant building at 823 Victoria Rd. in Whitney Pier at about 9:19 p.m.
CBRM deputy fire chief Chris March said when firefighters arrived heavy smoke limited visibility to about 100 metres. When firefighters entering the building they discovered there had been at least one previous fire before — the building was boarded up and the floor had been badly damaged. They decided to tear the structure down so they could extinguish hotspots.
After the building came down the occupants of neighbouring buildings were allowed to return home as firefighters remained on the scene until 4:40 a.m.
March also addressed rumours that the ongoing construction on the Victoria Road overpass slowed firefighters from getting to the scene.
He said emergency officials arranged long before construction began for the so-called “road to nowhere” to be open so police, firefighters and EHS can quickly respond from the Sydney side of the overpass. Security guards posted at the entrance to the road remove the barriers that prevent the public from accessing the road whenever there is an emergency, he explained.
Due to the normal conditions of the overpass, March said the one minute, 46 seconds response time to Tuesday’s night fire might be quicker than if firefighters had taken that route.
“Actually, truth be told the condition of the overpass the past few years, it’d probably be speedier because the potholes and the rundown condition of the overpass was very hard on the apparatus and so the speeds would have to be adjusted, and the other road is a brand-new road, so it’s flat and the sightlines are very good — no ups and downs and no turns — so it’s a very good place for us to respond from,” he said. “I can say that because I ran on the trucks for 10 years and I remember many responses going over to the Pier overpass and it was a rocky road to say the least.”
Meanwhile, a fire at an apartment building in North Sydney is also under investigation.
Between nine and 11 people were displaced by the fire at an older, two-storey building with four apartments on King Street, which began at about 4:30 p.m.
March said the initial call was that a woman and child were trapped inside but everyone was safely outside by the time firefighters arrived and no injuries were reported.
“We’re always at a pace of heightened awareness but certainly when something like that comes in the guys and gals of North Sydney fire certainly stepped up.”
The Canadian Red Cross helped some of the tenants find accommodations while others were able to stay with family or friends.