By Craig Gilbert/London Community News/Twitter: @CraigbGilbert
It is a rare thing indeed for a fire chief to be the one actually calling in a fire.
London Fire Service Platoon Chief Paul Carew was driving on Wharncliffe Road on Wednesday (Nov. 21) at around 3 p.m. when he noticed smoke about a block away.
“Fortunately we recognized immediately what the smoke was,” Carew said at the scene of the fire at 31 Holborn Ave. “We came around the corner and could see flames coming out the front door.
“When we got here people (from the neighbourhood) were just realizing what was going on.”
There were no injuries as a result of the fire, which is currently under investigation by the department. Firefighters will decide whether the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office needs to get involved.
Firefighters performed a total of six searches for people inside, a quick primary and more thorough secondary of each of the three rooms, and found no one.
London Police were on scene interviewing witnesses after the blaze was extinguished.
Carew said the 20 firefighters who responded to the call caught the fire before it spread from the semi-detached unit to the rest of the building or adjacent structures.
“Another couple of minutes and that wouldn’t have been the case,” Carew said. “We actually had to do the primary search while the fire was still burning. So we had two personnel advancing the hose and three more behind them searching the rooms.”
A neighbour across the street said the house was home to a young family.
Residents of the neighbourhood said the smoke was so intense at first that they thought it was the result of an explosion, but that they didn’t hear one.
A teenager watching from across the street said she was on the bus home from school when she and other students smelled the smoke.
“I thought 'Oh my God, the bus is on fire'!”