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Residents near weekend fire out of a home for 2 weeks

HALIFAX – Over 20 people from a set of townhouses next to this weekend’s devastating fire on Portland Place have been evacuated from their homes again.

Officials say the 14 families could be displaced for at least two weeks. The Red Cross will be helping the families as they wait to be allowed back into their homes.

Acting Halifax Fire Division 2 commander Pat Kline says an engineer hired by the insurance companies determined a wall on the east side of the building is too unstable.

“It would be at least a few days until they can support that wall from the other side,” Kline said.

David Ballum-Haftka, who was forced from his home for 12 hours on Sunday, says he had four minutes to pack up his belongings before he had to leave his home again on Monday evening.

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“I grabbed my dog’s food and my dog’s medications and my medications and some clean underwear and threw it in a bag and here I am,” he said as he stood outside his townhouse.

“I’m actually hoping when the insurance adjuster gets here that he will tell us that he’s putting us up in the hotel. That’s what I’m hoping for. Other than that, I don’t know — I have some friends I can stay with.”

The evacuations capped off a busy day for fire crews at the scene. Firefighters were called back to the two-storey structure fire on Monday morning, after hot spots were discovered in the rubble.

“We came to do a building check post-fire and the captain noticed some smoldering areas,” Kline said.

The building was considered too unstable for firefighters to enter, so crews used an aerial platform basket to douse the rubble with water.

As many as 10 fire units were initially called to the scene shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday morning after reports of smoke and flames.

Crews initially tried to battle the fire from the inside but soon had to withdraw.

The building, which eventually collapsed, contained several businesses, including a furniture store and a printing business.

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“There’s nothing left,” said Michael Carpenter, who owns Mike’s Print House. “Hopefully, I have good insurance. Hopefully, they’re able to help out and we’ll have to totally start completely from scratch.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

With files from The Canadian Press