Residents thankful after close call when fire ignited in Smiths Falls condo

May 1, 2017 by
Pearl St Fire Heddy Sorour

The fire that ripped through the condo building on Pearl St. Smiths Falls took 50 fire fighters to control. Damage is currently assessed at $750,000. (Photo Heddy Sorour, Lake 88)

The fire that ripped through the condo building at 8 Pearl Street in Smiths Falls took several hours to tame yesterday.

It left 22 families homeless and another 20 families from a neighbouring building had to be temporarily evacuated due to smoke.

Lake 88’s Heddy Sorour, caught up with one of the affected families at their temporary accommodations at the Econolodge in Smiths Falls.

“The fire started before 11:15,” said Rita Fowlie, a resident of the building. “I was on the phone with my daughter and I could smell the smoke before I hung up with her at 11:05.”

The next morning Smiths Falls fire fighters were still on the scene with the Ontario Fire Marshal investigating the cause and origin of the fire.

“We’re pretty sure it started on the third floor,”said Earnest Fowlie. “The fire spread so fast, so unbelievably fast.  It felt like a tornado as we were exiting.”

Having helped his wife to safety, Earnest Fowlie, ran back in to help his neighbour, an elderly gentlemen with hearing loss, poor sight and mobility issues, whose health care worker needed assistance to maneuver out of the building.

According to the Fowlies it was lucky nobody got hurt, because the fire broke out at the same time that residents were expecting a regular fire drill.

“When I ran back in, I started yelling 'This is real' and banged on doors,” said Earnest.

While the Fowlies are distressed over the loss of their home, they count themselves lucky.  Not only did they get their photo albums back thanks to the quick thinking of the local firefighters, but their insurance will cover the bulk of their losses.

“I also spoke to the condo company and they’ve said they’re going to rebuild our units within six to 12 months,” said Rita.

In the immediate aftermath Victims Services Lanark County and the Canadian Red Cross are covering the costs of the hotel for the fire victims for the next three to five days.

Meanwhile the town of Smiths Falls has indicated that cash donations are being collected by the Salvation Army at 613- 283-3563 or by mail at Box 381, 251 Brockville Street, S. Falls  K7A 4T2.

Donations of small appliances, furniture, and dishes are being accepted at the back entrance of the former Ardene’s store at the County Fair Mall during regular business hours.

Victim Services and the Red Cross are conducting an assessment of needs for the displaced residents as it relates to clothing, footwear, personal items, etc and will communicate items needed through social media.