TIM WIECLAWSKI/METRO OTTAWA
Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa
It was a small basement fire that Allan Shusterman thought he could snuff out on his own.
But his fire extinguisher didn’t work and in minutes the small fire — fuelled by paint thinner on a workbench — had fully engulfed the basement of his house at 650 Tillbury Ave.
“I was working on my workbench in the basement and I knocked over a lamp and it caught fire,” said Shusterman. “I went and got a fire extinguisher from upstairs and I couldn’t get it working and I just called 9-1-1 and got out.”
By 10:50 a.m. when firefighters arrived, the blaze was so intense they could only fight it from the rear stairwell and through the basement windows, said District Chief Al Karkkainen.
Fire and smoke moved into heating ducts and throughout the house. “It got into the ceilings and walls, into the floor spaces. It just got everywhere,” said Karkkainen.
Shusterman’s wife, Shelley, was downtown at a meeting when the fire broke out.
“He called me from his cellphone saying, ‘you better come home quick, there was a little fire,’” she said. “He was going to clean out the basement this weekend; I guess he don’t have to worry about that now. Thank God he wasn’t hurt, but it looks like we’ve lost everything.”
The floor in a second-storey addition collapsed when a support post in the basement failed. One firefighter on the entry team sustained cuts to his hand and needed stitches.