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Seven Escape Townhouse Fire In Halifax
Nasra Gele speaks to a Halifax regional fire captain, following a fire in her Federal Avenue apartment in Halifax on Sunday afternoon. Ms. Gele helped five children and a friend escape safely.(TIM KROCHAK / Staff)
Halifax , Dec. 12, 2005 (The Chronicle Herald) – Nasra Gele was relatively calm for a woman who had just ushered her children from their burning Halifax home. A married mother of six, Ms. Gele said five of the kids, herself and a friend were inside 3368 Federal Ave. when a fire broke out in an upstairs bedroom just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday." When I heard the smoke alarm, I just tried to get the children out," she said while standing on the sidewalk in the pouring rain. "I didn’t even see what happened upstairs."
Everyone got out safely, she said. The children were sent to a friend’s home down the street while Ms. Gele spoke with emergency officials.
Five fire trucks and two police vans responded to the call. Nova Scotia Power was also at the scene but in the end the electricity did not have to be shut off.
Firefighters sloshed through the messy mix of snow and rain, dragging hoses and industrial-sized fans up to the blue two-storey townhouse.
The windows on the second floor were wide open, the glass in one blackened by smoke. Downstairs the curtains were drawn in the main room and a flowered sheet flapped through the front doorway.
Ms. Gele, whose family moved to Halifax from Somalia in 2001, said she was downstairs at the time of the fire, so she’s not sure of the extent of the damage.
"I don’t know because the fire started upstairs and I didn’t even check," she said, twisting a tissue in her hands.
David Laybolt, acting platoon chief for the Halifax regional fire service, said investigators aren’t sure what caused the fire but confirmed that it started upstairs and caused serious damage.
"The upper floor of the unit, one room is burnt out and the other two rooms are heavily smoke-damaged," he said.
Neighbor John Munroe said he was putting up Christmas decorations when he saw the first of the emergency vehicles pull up. He said he was worried for his neighbors when he saw the smoke.
"They’re nice people," he said.
Mr. Munroe said there have been two other fires in the area during the 15 years he’s lived there, but he’s never seen smoke like the kind that was pouring out of the Gele home.
"Not that black of a smoke, it was really thick," he said. "It was coming out of that top window there, over the roof and in the back."
Mr. Munroe said a fire is an unfortunate thing to have happen at any time but it is especially devastating during the holidays.
"God love them, the kids you know, with Christmas and all," he said, shaking his head.
Emergency vehicles and caution tape still blocked off the area around the damaged home several hours after the fire was extinguished.
At about 5:30 p.m. , Mr. Laybolt said representatives from the municipal housing authority had met with the family to arrange alternative accommodations.
In the meantime, he said, fire officials will continue their investigation.
Source: The Chronicle Herald