A fire near Victoria Park in Kitchener destroyed one home and damaged two others Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were called to West Avenue, between Homewood Avenue and Brock Street, around 8:45 a.m.

Crews from several stations were called to the scene, as the smoke was visible across much of the city – including from the Kitchener Fire Department headquarters on Strasburg Road. The smoke prompted more than a dozen 911 calls.

When they arrived at the scene, firefighters determined that nothing could be done to save the house where the fire began, which is believed to have been abandoned.

West Avenue fire

Instead, they worked to limit the damage to neighbouring homes – like the one next door belonging to Carl Visutski.

“I looked out my kitchen window … and I could see the flames,” Visutski said.

Moments later, neighbours started knocking on his door, telling him to get outside. He grabbed his phone, but decided against delaying his exit by searching for his glasses or a shirt.

“They were saying ‘Get out of your house; get out of your house,’” he said.

At the house on the other side of the one where the fire began, a family was able to get to safety. According to neighbours, one man woke up his 95-year-old mother and carried her outside.

That house received significant damage. Firefighters say shingles on its roof caught fire – but the fire wasn’t immediately apparent, as the shingles were covered by a second roof, made of steel.

“It was a challenge to fight that fire safely, because we didn’t want to put people on that very steep roof,” platoon chief Doug Voisin told reporters.

Visutski’s home had damage to a window and wall on one side.

The house between those two – the one believed to have been vacant – was destroyed. Its remains were considered too unsafe for firefighters to enter as of Tuesday afternoon.

West Avenue fire 2

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa