Blaze leaves 50 homeless

Early-morning Hamilton fire destroys appliance store, apartments above

By KIM BRADLEY, TORONTO SUN

UP TO 50 people have been left homeless after a $1-million fire ripped through the Hamilton electronics store below their flats yesterday. Fire erupted in Electronic Liquidators on King St. E. around 1 a.m. Residents living in 14 apartments above the store were evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Residents in a neighbouring apartment building were also evacuated when the fire reached dangerous dimensions, said chief fire prevention officer Jim Winn.

"It was a big fire in an old building," he said. "It spread very quickly."

Winn said 33 firefighters on nine fire trucks poured more than 250 million litres of water on the stubborn blaze. Crews were still extinguishing hot spots in the basement at 7 a.m.

There was nothing crews could do to save the building. It collapsed into the basement, destroying everything. "It was demolished," Winn said.

Around 4 p.m., a backhoe brought in to dig out the debris accidentally fell into the basement.

It was reported yesterday that some residents complained the building was a fire trap, but Winn said the building was inspected in December and met all fire regulations.

The Ontario fire marshal's office has been called in to determine the cause of the blaze.