Victims of Apartment Fire Frustrated At Lack of Information

In Community, Editor Choice, Local, News

(Victim of the Wellington Street fire, John Campbell-Mahaney talks to a worker at the scene of the fire)

Emotions of frustration are near a boiling point with some tenants of a devastating fire on Wellington Street in Port Hope.
At least 35 people have been displaced for an unknown amount of time since flames engulfed the roof of the 24-unit apartment building.
Outside the building on Tuesday afternoon, smoke alarms can still be heard ringing throughtout the building that is now surrounded by security fence.
One worker with a hard hat on was posting signs stating it was a construction site.
Soon after, a person arrived stating he was investigating the fire for the insurance company.
At least one representative was on seen from the OSPCA stating he had been inside the building looking for at least one pet, but did not find any.
John Campbell-Mahaney was a tenant in the building and arrived looking for any sign of his cat.
“I’m not giving up,” said Campbell-Mahaney as he asked officials on site if they have seen any indication of the animal.
Clearly frustrated by the lack of information, Campbell-Mahaney is currently staying at a friends in Garden Hill.
“I haven’t heard a darn thing.”
At the time of the fire his son was staying with him, but his son his heading down to Texas for his wedding this coming Friday.
“I’ve never been through a fire and don’t know what to expect.”

(John Campbell-Mahaney talks to a OSPCA officer while looking for his pet)

Like many others in the building, Campbell-Mahaney doesn’t have insurance.
Linda Blakeman lived on the third floor in the apartment beside where the fire started.
“Very frustrated at the moment. Hoping to hear something from somebody.”
Blakeman was told initially that she would be put up at a local hotel for several days, but hasn’t been told how long.
“I don’t know from one day to the next if we are going to be asked to leave. And how do you leave with nothing?”
“When can I go into my apartment to see if there is anything that might be salvageable.”
“I haven’t heard nothing from absolutely anybody since this happened. And it’s getting more frustrating as each day goes by.”
“Nobody is saying anything, no explanations given, no answers given.”
Blakeman said if people are going in such as the OSPCA officer it stands to reason it must be safe.
“If somebody is going in looking for anything, I would think it would be safe. But then again, I haven’t heard any time frame when it would be safe,” said Blakeman.
The only information Blakeman has had about her apartment is drone footage from Today’s Northumberland.
“I do see a lot of things standing.”
Looking at the footage Blakeman can see some areas of her apartment that appears haven’t been touched by the fire.
“I can see all of my cabinets still standing intact and knicknacks inside them.”
“There is a lot that is hopeful.”
Blakeman does credit the Canadian Red Cross who have helped a great deal since the fire.
“They’ve helped a tremendous amount when this initially started.”
Tenants were given emergency housing for five days over the long weekend.
“We were able to get clothing and personal items from vouchers from Wal-Mart which was very, very helpful and some food items.”
Port Hope Police Deputy Chief Darren Strongman would not confirm if police had completed their investigation and would only say the fire was “accidental due to electrical failure,” but wouldn’t elaborate.
Ontario Fire Marshal investigaor Andrea Gaynor stated to Today’s Northumberland on Tuesday, “the area of origin was identified as the attic/ ceiling space of a third floor apartment. There were electrical wiring and electrical fixtures (Such as lights) in the area of origin. Due to the damage we could not pinpoint the exact nature of the electrical failure.”
Gaynor said, “if the public encounters flickering lights, blown fuses or tripped circuits they should be diligent in notifying their superintendent and getting a licensed electrician to check for any faults immediately.”
Municipality of Port Hope officials stated they are working on getting information about the condition of the building.
Once they have that information they will be issuing a release.

(On the left, Josh Neville, Business representative of Local 397 of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America is thanked by Bill Fulton who organized a fundraiser on Sunday bringing in over $20,000 to the victims of the fire)

In an amazing display of community spirit, Local 397 of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America have donated $10,000 towards relief efforts for the victims.

Business representative Josh Neville said, “we’re happy to give back to the local community.  In a small community we do what we can to help each other.”


UPDATE from Municipality of Port Hope

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 – Port Hope, ON
The Municipality of Port Hope and Northumberland County, along with other community partners, continue to work together to provide assistance to the residents who have been affected by the Wellington Street fire.
At this time, the Municipality can confirm that the building’s insurance company is conducting further investigations, with structural engineers scheduled to inspect the building later this week. Following the inspection, an engineering report will be provided to the Municipality’s Chief Building Official. At this time, access to the building will be granted only to the insurance company’s investigators.
A list of Emergency Support Services has been issued by Northumberland County. Residents who have been displaced from their homes are strongly encouraged to reach out to the identified organizations to seek shelter, donation information and support. This information will help individuals and families as they consider their housing options going forward.
The Municipality and the County would like to thank all those who have donated items and money to support the victims of the fire. The donations are being sorted and will be distributed by the Salvation Army, to those in need. At this time, the Municipality is no longer accepting donated items directly. The Canadian Red Cross and the Salvation Army are in the process of identifying specific needs of the victims and more information will be communicated, once the specific needs have been identified.
The Municipality will continue to provide updates to the community, as they become available. Residents are encouraged to visit for information.


Emergency Services – 48 Wellington Street Residents

Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre 40 Swayne St. Cobourg 24 Hour Support Line: 905.372.0746 or 1.800.263.375

Salvation Army 100 Peter Street, Upper Level Contact: Lisa Graham (905) 885-2323 Hours: Monday, Friday 9am-12pm

The Help Centre of Northumberland 1005 Elgin St., Unit 301, Cobourg (905) 372-2646 Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9am-5pm, Thursday 9am -2pm

Northumberland Community Legal Centre 1005 Elgin St. Cobourg (905) 373-4464 Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm

Service Ontario 58 Queen Street, Port Hope 905-885-7400 Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 9am – 5pm and Thursday 9am – 7pm

1005 Elgin Street West, Suite 105, Cobourg 1-800-664-8988 Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am-5:00pm

Victim Services of Peterborough and Northumberland 1-888-822-7729 Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

4 County Crisis 466 George Street North, Peterborough 1-866-995-9933 Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

Northumberland Hills Hospital – Community Mental Health Services 1011 Elgin Street West, Suite 200, Cobourg (905) 377-9891 or 1-888-294-7579 Walk-in Counselling Hours: Tuesdays 8am-4pm, Thursdays 10am-6:00pm

Green Wood Coalition 18 Ontario St. Port Hope (905) 885-8700

Northumberland County Community and Social Services 555 Courthouse Rd. Cobourg (905) 372-6846 Hours Monday – Friday 8:30am -4:30pm

Food Support in Port Hope:
Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank 34 South Street (Port Hope United Church – in basement) (905) 885-6674 Hours: Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon and 6 to 8pm

Port Hope Community Health Centre – Emergency Food Cupboard 99 Toronto Road (905) 885-2626 Hours: Thursdays from 1:00 to 3:30pm

Salvation Army Community and Family Services – Emergency Food 100 Peter Street, Upper Level (905) 885-2323 Hours: Mondays and Fridays from 9:00am to 12 noon

Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Emergency Food (905) 373-2940

Salvation Army – Soup Lunch 51 King Street, St. Marks Anglican Church Hours: Tuesdays from 11:30-12:30 (until end of May)

Calvary Pentecostal Church – Lunch Program 401 Croft Street East, Corner of Rose Glen Road and Croft Street East (905) 885-6013 Hours: Fridays from 11:30am to 1:00pm

Greenwood Coalition Community Dinners 33 Pine Street, St. John’s Parish Hall

(905) 269-7610 Hours: Wednesdays – Refreshments: 5 pm, Dinner: 6 pm-7pm

Clothing/Household Items:
Beyond the Blue Box 14 Covert Street, Cobourg (905) 373-7202 Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm, Sundays 11am-4pm

Community Works in Hamilton Township 7060 Lake Street, Bewdley (905) 797-2535 Ext. 22 Hours: Thursdays from 10am-3pm

Laundry Services:
Port Hope Coin Laundry/Dry Cleaners 103 Peter Street, Port Hope (905) 885-7185 Hours: 6am-11pm every day

G&G Laundromat 118 King Street, Port Hope (416) 997-8226 Hours: 8am -8pm every day

So-Clean Laundromat 68 Wellington Street, Port Hope Hours:

Pet Services:
Northumberland Humane Society 371 Ward Street, Port Hope (905) 885-4131
Municipal Animal Services 2363 Theatre Road South Cobourg, Ontario K9A 4W5

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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