From The Kingston Whig-Standard

Yesterday, two more fires hit the region, just hours apart.

Just before 2:30 a.m., Gananoque firefighters were called to an apartment complex on King Street above the Stone Street Tavern.

The fire caused minimal damage to the complex of 12 apartments above the tavern but one man suffered serious burns.

Gananoque Fire Chief Gerry Bennett said the man suffered second- and third-degree burns over 70 per cent of his body. He estimated that there was only about $500 in damages to the apartment itself.

Bennett would not identify the victim or explain how he was burned.

Bennett said he expected the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office to start investigating the fire last night, but he believed there was nothing suspicious about it.

“It appears accidental,” he said.

The burn victim was transferred to the Kingston General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and later moved to a burn unit in Hamilton.

The residents of the 12 apartments above the tavern and its remaining staff were evacuated from the building but were allowed to return around 4 a.m.

Roughly half an hour later, the evacuation of a downtown Kingston landmark, the Prince George Hotel on Ontario Street, began after a fire started on the third floor of the 19th-century building.

Samantha Murphy, the front desk clerk, called the Kingston Fire Department after an alarm was triggered.

She then began calling guests to get them out of the hotel but the fire had started in a hallway and several could not get out.

Three people were rescued from their third-floor room facing Market Street by firefighters using ladders. Another two broke a window and made their way to a flat roof facing Clarence Street where firefighters got them down.

No one suffered serious injuries.

Assistant deputy fire chief Barry Leaver said yesterday that the fire was contained to the third floor, although the rest of the 26-room hotel and the Tir nan Og pub on the first floor suffered smoke and water damage and will be closed until the damage can be repaired.

Sharman Howes, the manager of the hotel, was still assessing the damage yesterday and said it was too soon to know when the hotel or the bar might reopen.

“Obviously we’re going to be closed for a little while,” she said.

Leaver said the fire apparently started in a common lounge area on the third floor, not in one of the rooms, although the cause of the fire was still under investigation yesterday. Early indications are that it was not suspicious.

Leaver said crews had to work quickly to contain the fire. Fires in old buildings such as the limestone Prince George structure are difficult to fight because they often have layers of flammable materials from previous renovations as well false walls behind which flames can spread.

“These old buildings can go like wildfires,” Leaver said.

Two firefighters remained at the hotel yesterday afternoon to guard against a hotspot flaring up.

Howes had high praise for the firefighters and their quick work in containing the fire.

“I can’t emphasize enough how quickly they got here and how quickly they got to it,” she said.

“It’s not until you need them that you realize how lucky we are. That and Samantha, who followed our procedures and did exactly what she was supposed to, calling the fire department and getting our guests out.”

The people staying at the hotel were moved across the street to the Radisson immediately following the fire.

The hotel and bar were roped off with yellow emergency tape yesterday. Broken glass from the third-floor guest rooms lay on Clarence Street as contractors began repairing the damage.

The Prince George Hotel was built as a private home in 1809. It was built for Lawrence Herchmer who also operated a store out of the house.

After the death of Herchmer in 1819 and the death of his wife, Elizabeth, in 1840, their son-in-law John McPherson turned the house into a Victorian-style shopping centre.

A fire in 1848 destroyed most of the property. After reconstruction in 1849, it was leased out to tenants. Major renovations were done in the 1970s.

Tir nan Og, modelled on a traditional Dublin pub, opened in 1997 following an extensive renovation of the building’s ground floor.