Another tragedy has struck the Allandale community as a fire tore through 100 Little Ave., Monday night.
Calls came in fast and furious just before 10 p.m. as a fire on the third floor of the building sent residents fleeing on to the streets surrounding the complex at the corner of Bayview Drive and Little Avenue.
Multiple fire-fighting units battled the blaze as parts of the third floor could be heard collapsing into the second floor below.
One woman collapsed crying into a neighbour’s arms at the thought of losing her home, a friend consoling her reminded her that she and her kids were out and that's all that mattered.
Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Weber confirmed there were no injuries, but that people were still being checked out at the Allandale Recreation Centre.
“We have 25 units of people who are all displaced at this time, but thankfully as we know it, no one was injured,” said Weber. “We have nearly every available unit on this fire and will continue to get it under control, but we will also take all the time necessary to find out the cause through investigation.”
The blaze is the second to leave people homeless in this area after a fire damaged 62 Little Ave., just a few buildings away, on April 6.
Weber said he is not connecting the two blazes, but knows that a full investigation is still needed.
“I know that folks will try to tie the two fires and that’s understandable, but we aren’t doing that at this time and have no indication to do so,” Weber said.
One resident who was on the ground floor said he believes he knows what caused the blaze. Tom Messenger heard the alarms going off and was leaving the building as a neighbour and friend came running down the hall.
“She came running down yelling that her lamp caught on fire as we got outside the building,” said Messenger. “She kept saying ‘my baby, my baby’, and as I turned to go back in I saw her husband coming out with the baby in his arms. That put a lot in perspective, knowing what could have been.
“As far as I know, thankfully everyone got out safe. The sad part is there are a lot of pets that I don’t see here on the streets. I fear that maybe they didn’t make it out.”
Messenger is a well-known local musician who had been working on a benefit show for the people who were displaced from the last fire on Little Avenue, but he will now likely not be able to.
“All my instruments, my music, my hard drives are all in there,” said Messenger. “I’ve lost likely all of them, if I can salvage one hard drive it will help. I was just working on a benefit show for my neighbours, I don’t know if that’s irony or tragedy but it is what it is.”
Messenger was outside the Allandale Recreation Centre having been checked out by the makeshift mobile health unit that had taken over the foyer.
It was all hands-on-deck as a City of Barrie transit bus was brought in as a warming station, Ward 8 Coun. Arif Khan was unable to talk as he was calling in for buses to transport residents to the hotel and members of Barrie Housing were on-hand to direct residents on where to go and also assist with anyone looking for someone they knew from the complex.
“We have booked 25 rooms at the Holiday Inn and are looking after our tenants as that is our first concern,” said one member of the Barrie Housing team who was on the ground. “Tomorrow we look into causes and structure, but right now we have families in need.”