From the Belleville Intelligencer

Local News - PICTON — A body was pulled from the scene of a fire on Main Street in Picton, Prince Edward OPP announced late Wednesday.

The victim, whose identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin, was found by an investigator from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from the canine search team and members of the Prince Edward County Fire Department, said police.

A post mortem has been ordered to be performed on the victim. The investigation is under the direction of Det. Insp. Jeff Bahm of the Eastern Region Criminal Investigations Branch and the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Firefighters were called to 139 Main St. in Picton at 1:14 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31 for a report of a structure fire. Firefighters found at least one building engulfed in flames and the fire quickly spread through at least three adjoining businesses on the block, two vacant storefronts and 10 apartments located on the second floor of the building. The Mighty Dollar, Metro Cleaners and Cash Advance were all damaged in the fire.

Many residents of the apartments barely managed to escape.

Andrew Grant, who lived in a second-floor apartment at 139 Main St. with his fiance, credited one of their dogs for alerting them in time.

Grant, 30, and JoAnne Faucher, were asleep when the fire broke out shortly after 1 a.m. Their one-year-old boxer, Honeybear, woke them by barking and jumping on their bed.

“Honeybear started going ballistic and jumping on the bed and woke JoAnne up. She started yelling fire and I got up and looked out the front window and could see the flames coming up (from below),” he recalled Wednesday morning as he surveyed the remains of his home. “I went to the door and it wasn’t hot but when I opened it, I was hit by a wall of dense black smoke.”

With no other way out, the pair, who have lived in the apartment since October, decided they would have to jump from a second-floor window.

Faucher jumped first and suffered a broken foot and then Grant dropped Honeybear and the couple’s other dog, Webster, to people on the street. Grant then jumped without injury.

While Grant and Faucher were jumping, others were climbing out windows onto the roof and used outside stair cases to escape the inferno, which rapidly engulfed two adjoining buildings. Some were clad in pajamas and boxer shorts.

Grant said his apartment was equipped with a smoke detector but it failed to work.

“I have no doubt that if Honeybear didn’t wake us up, we wouldn’t have made it out of there,” he said.

The pair escaped with only the clothes they had on. With no insurance on their belongings, Grant said the couple will have no choice but to start over.

“You can’t replace a lot of the family things in there but at least we got out with our lives and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Grant and Faucher, along with other tenants in the buildings, have been put up at the Tip of the Bay Motel by the Salvation Army until they can make other arrangements.

“We’re lucky to have them,” said Grant. “It’s tough enough right now but at least we have somewhere to go.”

Wednesday’s fire was the second time in 15 months Picton’s downtown has been hit by a major blaze. In Oct. 2002, a major fire destroyed three buildings at the east end of Main Street, resulting in $2 million damage. The cause was ruled undetermined and there were no fatalities in that blaze.