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Fire on Avenue Road causes significant damage, sends five to hospital

'There was smoke coming out of every window,' said deputy fire chief after attending evening fire on Avenue Road

An evening fire at 67 Avenue Road has sent at least five people to hospital for smoke inhalation, caused significant damage and had residents running for their lives. 

Around 6:30 p.m. Helder Mederios was in his nephew's apartment on the lower level of the building. He heard some arguing and commotion from the neighbours and got up to make sure the front door was closed.

"The door was open a little bit and I didn't want whatever was going on out there to spill over in here, but when I got up I noticed a bit of smoke in the hallway," said Mederios. 

At first, he thought someone was either smoking or messing with a fire extinguisher, but then the smell of burning plastic and wood filled his apartment. 

"We knew we needed to leave and when we opened the door the smoke was black, black. We couldn't see anything," he said. "I couldn't breathe and on the way out I was walking into the wall and almost fell into someone's apartment."

After he got outside, his face was covered in black soot and was helped by paramedics who quickly showed up on the scene. 

Deputy fire chief Brad Churchill quickly arrived on the scene and realized that this was a large-scale emergency. 

"When we pulled in there was smoke coming out of every window," said Churchill. "We had every single station in Cambridge either committed to this fire or out on other calls."

CFD called in assistance from Kitchener Fire to help send in an extra truck to help extinguish the blaze. 

Churchill said 26 people have been displaced by the fire and there is no timeframe for when they can come back home.

Five individuals were also transported to St. Mary's Hospital in Kitchener and their injuries are not currently known. 

"Three units are completely destroyed, there's no saving them," he said. "It will take a while to understand the full extent of the damage in the building." 

The amount of smoke and water damage to the entire front half of the building and the scale of the fire has put the investigation into the hands of the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office which is currently on scene investigating. 

There is currently no cause for the fire, although residents like Mederios heard that there was something to do with a battery being overcharged. 

"Everyone was saying it was an e-bike battery, so if one of those exploded no wonder the smoke was so black," he said. 

Churchill would estimate the damage to be in the hundreds of thousands, but admits that this would be a stab in the dark and could exceed this depending on the current investigation. 

"I'm really proud of our team and how we collaborated with everyone from paramedics, Kitchener Fire and WRPS; it was seamless," he added. "We hold large-scale emergency drills and this is a perfect example of it paying off." 

Luckily for Mederios, he lives on the other side of the building where there was no smoke damage and can safely return to his own apartment. 

"It was scary man, but I'm glad we all got out okay and there was no deaths. At the end of the day, that's all that matters." 

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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