London firefighter Randy Geene waits for an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal's office to arrive at the scene of an apartment fire at 85 Walnut St. in London on Sunday. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

London firefighter Randy Geene waits for an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office to arrive at the scene of an apartment fire at 85 Walnut St. in London on Sunday. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

A woman was clinging to life Sunday following a blaze that injured four people, including a firefighter, at a London public housing highrise where a man died in a fire three years ago.

Residents at 85 Walnut St., a building run by the London and Middlesex Housing Corp., awoke Sunday to the fire alarm going off around 3:25 a.m.

Eighth-floor resident Stan Jacques, 57, said he went to his balcony and saw flames shooting from a 14th-floor unit.

“All of sudden I hear a boom,” said Jacques, adding black smoke began billowing from a blown-out window.

Lorna Clark, who lives on the 14th floor, said she saw flames coming from the balcony of a nearby unit on her floor.

Clark, 52, grabbed her nine-year-old Jack Russell and fled into the smoke-filled hallway before taking the stairs to get outside, where she said she saw a man from her floor telling firefighters that his sister was still inside the burning unit.

The man was taken into an ambulance before firefighters brought out a woman, Clark said.

“There was about four or five firemen carrying her out . . . and they took her straight to the ambulance,” she said.

The injured man had moved into his ailing sister’s apartment to care for her, said Clark, who has lived in the building for two years.

“She (is) bedridden,” Clark said of her neighbour.

London fire prevention inspector Jack Burt said three residents — two from the same unit — were taken to hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

One victim was listed in critical but stable condition Sunday, he said.

A firefighter who was injured battling the blaze has been released from hospital, said Burt, who declined to provide details of the injury.

The fire caused an estimated $60,000 in damage. The damage was contained to one unit.

Firefighters remained at the scene Sunday afternoon waiting for an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office to arrive.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Burt said when asked about a possible cause.

Inside the damaged unit, the walls and ceilings were blackened. Burned furniture and debris covered the floor.

The 232-unit highrise southwest of Wharncliffe Road South and Riverside Drive is a geared-to-income building for older residents.

It was the scene of a deadly fire on Oct. 10, 2013. A blaze that started on the second floor killed 57-year-old Sean Delaney, injured five others and left 14 residents homeless. Then-deputy fire chief Jim Jessop called that fire the worst apartment blaze he’d ever seen.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

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Source: Apartment fire injures siblings | The London Free Press