A fire dealt significant damage to a downtown Kemptville building last weekend, but thankfully firefighters were able to prevent a total loss of the building. The fire emergency happened on February 25 at the building that most residents associate with a local pizza restaurant, Mr. Mozzarella, though the fire started on the top floor, not in the restaurant. No one was hurt as a result of the fire, but it produced a large volume of smoke which drew plenty of public attention. It is not yet known what caused the incident.
Deron Johnston lives on the second floor of the building that caught fire and was able to provide details about what happened. He explained that the heroic efforts of the North Grenville Fire Department ensured that the fire was contained to the top floor of the building and did not damage any of the lower floors, including his apartment on the second floor. However, a large amount of water was required to contain the blaze, so it is very likely that water damage will be found in the lower floors of the building.
“Everyone got out of the building safely, including three pets,” said Deron. Mr. Mozzarella was forced to temporarily shut down, but thankfully all of the employees made it out safely. Deron had been away at a local event when the fire started, and he noticed the smoke when he was on his way home. He did not have any inkling that it could be his apartment building on fire when he saw the smoke until he drew closer. That is when he noticed a large number of people calling him to check and see that he was okay.
Deron confirmed that no one is allowed in the building, probably until at least Monday. As per protocol, the fire department must first confirm that the fire is completely out and that there is no risk of it starting back up again. At that point, the building owner and an insurance company representative will need to visit the site and assess the damage to determine if residents can be allowed back inside. “It could be a couple of days, it could be a couple of weeks, we don’t really know for sure,” Deron added. Deron has an alternative place to stay in the meantime, as do the other residents of the building from what he has heard.
The excellent work of the North Grenville Fire Department rarely goes unnoticed following fire disasters, and this situation is no exception. Deron pointed out that firefighters offered to enter displaced residents’ apartments to retrieve needed medications and other necessities. In addition, part of the emergency services offered in North Grenville is a victim services division. Everyone who lives in the affected building was interviewed by victim services to ensure that they have everything that they need, including food, clothing and hotel vouchers as needed. “They were there to help,” Deron said.
When disasters strike in Kemptville, we often get reminders of just how caring the community can be. Deron revealed that not only were the actions of the fire department and the victim services division heroic, but countless ordinary members of the community were also offering to help those affected by the fire. Directly across from the affected building is the North Grenville Public Library, which stayed open for hours after its usual closing time to offer a “warm up” centre for those displaced by the fire. Included in this effort was library CEO Rachel Brown, who volunteered her own time to help.
While the cause of the fire is not yet known, it is certain that this disaster could have ended much worse. Bravo to the heroic efforts of the fire department, and the caring spirit of the Kemptville community.