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Saint John duplex fire leaves more than a dozen people displaced: ‘Lots of smoke’

WATCH ABOVE: Paul Cormier explains what we know about a Saint John fire that has left approximately 15 people displaced and what may happen to the building.

A fire that broke out at a Saint John duplex Monday night has left approximately 15 people displaced.

Platoon Chief Eric Garland told Global News they received a call at about 11:30 pm to a fire in a duplex at 75 and 77 Duke St. When fire crews arrived the building was engulfed in flames and the residents had self-evacuated.

Two of those people were Syful Heml and his roommate Osman Khazi.

“All of a sudden I just heard my roommate screaming and I got up and opened my door and saw black smoke,” Heml said.

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A Saint John duplex was damaged by a Monday night fire leaving approximately 15 people displaced.
A Saint John duplex was damaged by a Monday night fire leaving approximately 15 people displaced. Paul Cormier/Global News

The roommates had only moved into 75 Duke St. less than a month ago.

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Khazi said the fire spread quickly.

“Within a few seconds the fumes started and it just catch up the entire house, so it was impossible to take our stuff or go back again,” he said.

Between 25 to 30 firefighters went into the building to attempt to control the fire, but after an hour had to continue battling the blaze from outside.

Following the fire, about 1,700 customers with Saint John Energy were without power, according to the utility. Power was restored by the morning.

Clifford Chaisson who lives around the corner from the building said he watched the crews battle the blaze.

“Oh it was bad,” Garland said. “Smoke, smoke, lots of smoke.”

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The doors of a duplex in Saint John are pictured after a fire ripped through the building the night of Monday, March 13, 2017.
The doors of a duplex in Saint John are pictured after a fire ripped through the building the night of Monday, March 13, 2017. Paul Cormier/Global News

Garland said none of the residents were injured, but one firefighter was taken to hospital with a non-life threatening injury. Three cats were also rescued and Emergency Medical Services managed to revive the animals, he said.

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Now fire officials are working with City of Saint John technical services to see if the building is structurally sound enough for people to go inside and retrieve some of their belongings.

Heml said he’s hoping he will be able to go back inside to grab important documents, including his passport.

Garland added the building will more than likely have to come down.

Officials say the investigation has begun, but has been confined to the building’s exterior until it has been determined if it’s safe to enter the building.

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