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December 20, 2002

Pair alert neighbours to fire

From: Guelph Mercury, Canada - 20 Dec 2002


GUELPH -- When smoke began billowing out of the vent above her stove early Thursday morning, Pauline Lariviere knew something was wrong.

The Julia Drive woman immediately called 911, then ran downstairs where she met up with Thom Murray, another resident in the eight-unit building at the corner of Alma Street North.

Murray had been drifting off to sleep shortly after 1 a.m. when he heard "two or three loud bangs" from the adjacent electrical room and began to smell smoke.

Lariviere said she and Murray opened the electrical room door "maybe an inch, and then a big puff of black smoke came out toward us." The pair closed the door and set about rousing the residents in the other units; Murray downstairs and Lariviere on the upper level.

Lariviere realized one of her neighbours, who is deaf, would not hear her knocking and instead went outside, where she climbed onto the man's balcony and then made her way into the apartment. "I was afraid he might wake up and punch me," she laughed.

"It's lucky we were up or it could have been much worse," Lariviere said.

She and Murray, as well as other residents on Thursday said no fire alarm had sounded. Murray said he even pulled an alarm station in an attempt to alert his neighbours "but it didn't work."

The pair got everyone outside before firefighters arrived.

"They were here very quickly," Lariviere said of the Guelph Fire Department. "I would say it was less than five minutes."

The fire was determined to be caused by faulty wiring and resulted in an estimated $10,000 damage. Residents were allowed to return to their apartments about 2:45 a.m.

Lariviere said her apartment still smelled smoky about noon Thursday "but it's not as bad as it was six hours ago."

Murray, whose apartment door is right beside the electrical room, said he had some minor water damage and a lingering smell of smoke, but acknowledged it could have been worse.

Contents copyright © 2002, Guelph Mercury