Highrise Apartment Fire Leaves 1 Dead, 20 Injured — Including 4 London Firefighters

Photo Courtesy of AM980

Photo Courtesy of AM980

One person is confirmed dead, and 20 others have been sent to hospital — including 4 London Firefighters — following a deadly overnight fire at a high-rise apartment building on Walnut St. near Wharncliffe and Riverside.

The 15 storey, 132 unit building is home to mostly low-income or disabled seniors.

The blaze broke out around 3:30 a.m. Thursday in a unit on the second floor, and quickly spread to several other floors.

Everyone inside the building was evacuated with the Salvation Army and LTC buses providing comfort and shelter to those forced outside.

“I could smell smoke, so I looked around and figured ‘OK, I’m going to go check out the hallway,’ so I went out to the hallway, and there was just smoke all over the place. I went back in, went outside, and just waited… on the balcony. That’s all I could do.” said Mike, a resident at the building.

Ruth lives in the building, and described a terrifying scene to AM980′s Natalie Lovie.

“We ran to the balcony, and we stayed out there — and could see the fire was coming out of the unit next door to me.” she said.

“The smoke was coming out of there, and it was unbelievable. The bedroom window kept getting redder, and redder, and redder.. I was worried about an explosion, so we got over to the other side of the wall.”

Photo Courtesy of AM980

Photo Courtesy of AM980

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and the Ontario Fire Marshal has been called to assist with the investigation.

Emergency officials have so far confirmed one fatality, but there’s no word on the individual’s name, age, or gender.

As many as 20 people were taken to hospital, including 4 London Firefighters.

“These were more twists, and sprains more than anything. No smoke inhalation, everyone had their equipment on [properly].” said Dean Baker with the London Fire Department.

The nature and severity of injuries to residents of the building, currently being treated in hospital, are unknown.

Earlier reports, however, suggested at least one of the victims was listed in critical condition.

London Firefighters are still at the scene, and will likely remain there for much of Thursday. Emergency personnel describe the blaze as a “serious structure fire,” saying they were faced with “immense heat” while trying to enter the building.

The 15-storey building at 85 Walnut Street is described as a senior’s community, “designed to provide secure, affordable housing for seniors (age 55+) in need of subsidized rent.”