Photo by Paul Everest/London Community News

Firefighters battled this blaze in a townhouse complex off of Shelborne Street for several hours Tuesday afternoon
(May 22). The cause of the blaze is not yet known and no one was injured.

As he watched firefighters battle the relentless blaze gutting his home on Tuesday afternoon (May 22), Sayad Khan Abdunaziz wondered where he and his family would sleep that night.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the London Fire Department was called to a townhouse complex off of Shelborne Street, near the intersection of Commissioners and Pond Mills roads, in response to a “major fire” that destroyed at least three of six units in one block of the complex.

No one was hurt in the blaze and up to three of the units in the block were unoccupied.

But Abdunaziz, his wife and his two sons were living in one of the units that was severely damaged in the fire.

He said his family has lost everything.

“Where will we all go?” he asked. “I don’t have anywhere to go.”

Abdunaziz said he and his eldest son were at home when the fire started, adding his son noticed smoke and flames in the backyard area of the townhouse block before emergency officials told them to evacuate.

“The police came and said ‘Get out’.”

Abdunaziz said he suffers from a number of health problems and his family has only lived in the unit for about two months.

He added he might consider asking one of his friends in the area if his family can seek shelter at his home.

Deputy Chief Dennis Harper of the London Fire Department described the blaze as a “major fire” and confirmed it had started behind the residences and quickly spread to the attic, making it tough to fight.

He said three or four of the units in the block were devastated by the fire and estimated the damage at between $300,000 and $400,000.

The cause of the fire is still unknown and a fire investigator will be going through the scene during the evening.

Harper said he wasn’t sure how many other people were living in the block’s other units.

With choking black smoke swirling overhead, hundreds of people in the area came out to watch firefighters battle the blaze, which was located directly behind a fire hall.

Firefighters used two aerial ladders equipped with water cannons to fight the blaze as it ripped through the roof of at least two of the units in the townhouse block.

Crews attacked the flames from the front and rear of the block while some department members worked within the structure.

An hour and a half after the fire started, firefighters were still ripping siding and insulation apart on the second floor to reach stubborn flames which continued to peek through parts of the partially demolished roof.

Some people living in other parts of the complex said they had seen children or young people in the backyard area of the block where the fire started just before the blaze started and added garbage was piled up in an open area beneath the units that were damaged.

The complex is part of the London Non-Profit Multicultural Residences for families with low incomes and was built in 1988, according to the website www.housing.london.ca.

Another townhouse block neighbouring the site of the fire was also evacuated by police as a precaution and residents from those units were beginning to return home by 7 p.m.

via London Community News

By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1