Update (Wednesday, May 31, 2023):
The cat, which fled from the fire scene after being rescued by firefighters, has now been reunited with its family.
Original article (Tuesday, May 30, 2023):
Anyone who was outside in Kingston’s west end this afternoon likely saw plumes of smoke billowing from the Cataraqui Woods area for about an hour — but luckily, those plumes turned from black to grey quickly, indicating that water was being applied to the flames.
That’s because Kingston Fire and Rescue crews, responding to a structure fire on Brackenwood Crescent reported at approximately 3:15 p.m., arrived on scene within minutes. And according to Platoon Chief Mike Keiley, the good luck didn’t stop there; despite the severe circumstances, with active flames visible and heavy, dark smoke coming from the residence, no one was home when the fire broke out.
There was, however, one family member inside: a cat. Neighbours saw the animal in a window attempting to get out, and the firefighters were notified of its presence. Despite the terrible fire, firefighters were able to rescue the cat.
Unfortunately, shortly after the cat was removed from the fiery home, it escaped and remains elusive. Homeowner Shawn Wilder shared photos of the cat, a female named Luna, and asked neighbours to keep an eye out for it in the neighbourhood.
Anyone with information about Luna’s whereabouts is asked to contact the family’s neighbour, Michelle McFadzen, on Facebook or at her residence at 1345 Brackenwood Crescent.
“When the first crews arrived, there were very, very heavy smoke conditions; you could see it from several blocks away, very heavy smoke conditions and visible flame,” relayed Keiley, who was still on the scene at approximately 3:35 p.m.
“The crews… their first application of water was from the outside, because when they arrived, it had already vented through the roof. So they were able to get water on it from the outside before they made entry, and they had to make forceful entry inside. Once they did, they found the fire was mostly contained to the attic space, so the main floor and the upstairs spaces were mostly clear of smoke.”
The bulk of the firefighting efforts were in the attic spaces, Keiley said. But the fact that the residence where the fire broke out was one half of a duplex presented its own set of problems.
“On one hand, that helped with the spread of the fire. On the other hand, it does have an impact on our firefighting applications, because we have to attack it from two different sides,” he explained.
“But we got our ladder truck up, [and] we were able to get water where we weren’t able to access from inside, so the combined efforts of the interior crews in coordination with the exterior crews were able to get us to the outcome where we’re at now.”
Saying it was “too early to tell” what the estimated cost of the damage might be, Keiley reiterated that the fortunate part was that the fire was mainly contained to the attic. He then spoke about something most people aren’t aware firefighters do: attempt to protect homeowners’ belongings while still actively fighting a fire.
“In a case like this, there is always considerable smoke and water damage. We try to minimize that as best we can: we’ve got crews that try to protect the belongings with big salvage tarps… but we are still in active firefighting operations, so we’re still required to keep the water supply going,” he shared.
And, like the estimated cost of the damage, Keiley said it was too early to say what caused the fire, though he did have some thoughts on that.
“There looked to be some fire damage on the outside, so we’re certainly going to look at that… But initial indicators: it looks like it may have started outside,” he said, underscoring that whether the fire actually began on the outside of the house was not confirmed at that time.
“Our fire investigators are on the way… Once they have a look, we’ll get a better sense of origin and cause.”
Kingstonist will provide updated coverage on this incident as more information becomes available.