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Several simultaneous fire alarms in St. John’s east end cause evacuations

Dozens of people in the east end of St. John’s were sent out in the cold Wednesday afternoon after fire alarms in almost a dozen buildings went off simultaneously, resulting in several evacuations.

“It was pretty hectic there for a while,” Capt. Don Feehan of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department told The Telegram. “It tied up a lot of resources in a short period of time — about 10 or 15 minutes.”

It happened at 1:45 p.m., he said, when alarms sounded in about 10 buildings in the area of Torbay Road, Elizabeth Avenue and Military Road, including the Argyle Building, the Salvation Army Glenbrook Lodge for seniors, Elizabeth Towers, the Newfoundland Registry of Deeds and the Hungry Heart building.

Feehan said it was the result of a drop in water pressure, which triggered fire alarms to sound due to low water flow. Some fire alarm panels monitor the water main because the utility water main is being utilized for the sprinkler systems.

“With multiple alarms, we had a good idea what was going on,” Feehan said.

He said four pumper trucks and two rescue trucks were dispatched from Kent’s Pond, Central, West and Brookfield stations.

“We’d be passing one building that was evacuated, but couldn’t stop because we were on the way to another,” said Feehan, adding that the problem was alleviated in less than half an hour.

Not every building was evacuated. The Telegram called Glenbrook Lodge, where staff confirmed residents did not have to be evacuated.

The Telegram contacted the City of St. John’s to ask what caused the water pressure to drop, but information wasn’t available by press time.

rosie.mullaley@thetelegram.com

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