At a May 1 meeting, Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow and fellow council members had words of praise for police and firefighters as well as the community at large following a devastating apartment building fire on Pearl Street Friday, April 28.
“I want to give a lot of credit to our emergency services personnel,” said Pankow at a regular council meeting. He noted that the fire at 8 Pearl St. caught at least one tenant unaware, a woman who had to be rescued from her unit shortly before a portion of the 22-unit building collapsed.
“Due to the diligence and hard work of our police service, that woman was out of there with not a lot of time to spare,” Pankow said.
The mayor added that quick action by the fire department prevented the fire from spreading to the neighbouring building at 10 Pearl Street.
Due to the efforts of Victims’ Services, displaced tenants have been temporarily housed at the Econo Lodge and Rogers Motel. Since Friday, said Pankiow, “A lot of landlords have contacted Victims’ Services, and we’ve been able to share that information about available units with the residents.”
The mayor noted that the Salvation Army church on Brockville Street has been collecting cash donations, and Zen Dragon is collecting clothing, since many former tenants have lost virtually everything.
“The support from the community has been outstanding,” said Pankow. “Things are coming together quite quickly.”
Later in the May 1 meeting Councillor Dawn Quinn commented that the number of people who drove to watch the fire actually impeded the progress of emergency vehicles. “Maybe they should be charged,” she said.
On a positive note, Quinn said, “Our police were there very quickly. I want you to think what value we have when we have our own police force.”
Councillor John Maloney also offered praise for the police officers who rescued the tenant, suffering smoke inhalation in the process. “At the end of the day it takes a certain person to run into a burning building with no thought to their own safety,” he said.