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Five people taken to hospital and 26 displaced after Cambridge fire

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Five people were taken to hospital, and more than two dozen forced from their homes, after flames tore through a Cambridge apartment building on Thursday night.

Fire crews were called to the three-storey building on Avenue Road around 6 p.m.

By then, smoke was already billowing out of units on the lower level.

The building was evacuated while firefighters worked to put out the flames.

Firefighter rescue at a Cambridge apartment building on Avenue Road. (Submitted)

Brad Churchill, the deputy chief for the Cambridge Fire Department, told CTV News every fire station in the city was either responding to the Avenue Road fire or dealing with other alarms throughout the city, so the Kitchener Fire Department was called in for mutual aid.

Witnesses told CTV News that they saw several people taken out of the building on stretchers while others needed to be rescued from their balconies.

The damaged exterior of a Avenue Road building in Cambridge after a fire on May 23, 2024. (Chris Thomson/CTV News)

Nelson Cordeiro, who lives in the building, called it a “really scary” situation.

“It was a lot to take in all at once,” he said. “People on the floor coughing, can’t breathe. Can’t catch their breath. People running out… it literally looked like a movie. People running out, covering their babies. It was a surreal moment.”

He also witnessed the rescue efforts.

“People were jumping from the balconies,” Cordeiro recalled. “People from the third floor were getting rescued on the ladders and stuff from firefighters, because they didn’t want to go downstairs.”

Paramedics treated 10 people at the scene and five of them were taken to local hospitals for further medical treatment. The extent of their injuries is not known at this time.

The scene after a fire was put out at a Cambridge building on Avenue Road.

Churchill also said 26 residents have been displaced and the Red Cross is working to find them accommodations.

Cordeiro is one of the residents who had to find another place to stay.

“I have options, thank God. Obviously I know some people in the building that don’t have those options, so I’m proud of my blessings.”

He said his unit wasn’t badly damaged so he hopes to return soon.

An engineer needs to assess the building’s structural integrity before any of the residents can return.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, meanwhile, are investigating the cause of the fire. They were looking through debris on Friday and are expected to continue their work Saturday.

Response to an Avenue Road apartment fire in Cambridge on May 24, 2024.

Churchill praised all the emergency responders who helped residents and put out the fire, saying they exhibited exemplary professionalism in the face of an incredibly challenging situation.

- With reporting by Jeff Pickel

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