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Fire crews battle overnight blaze in north end Saint John

Saint John fire crews battle another vacant building fire
WATCH: Saint John's north end is the location of yet another fire in a vacant building. As Andrew Cromwell reports, residents are growing increasingly worried, and the city's mayor says he is listening.

Saint John fire crews were busy putting out hot spots Thursday morning at a house fire on the city’s north end.

The blaze broke out overnight at 177 Main St., at the corner of Main and Elgin streets.

READ: Vacant building reduced to rubble in Saint John fire

Saint John Fire Platoon Chief Barry Oikle says when firefighters arrived, they saw heavy flames coming from the side of the building on the second and third storeys.

The fire broke out at about 4 a.m. Thursday.
The fire broke out at about 4 a.m. Thursday. Andrew Cromwell/ Global News

The three-storey wooden building was vacant at the time but undergoing renovations, and there was initial concern there were people inside.

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“Sometimes people who are doing the renovations are staying the night,” said Oickle.

“At that time there, we advanced in a primary search team. We searched division one and got an all clear and then … the deterioration of the conditions of the building forced us to start hauling crews out.”

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No one was injured.

The official cause of the blaze is under investigation but Saint John Fire Chief Kevin Clifford says it cannot be ruled out yet that the fire was suspicious in nature.

There have been a series of fires in vacant or abandoned building in that area of the city in recent months and residents are worried.

“It concerns me because where I live so close by,” said north end resident Bill Crowe.

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Crowe adds that many other residents are afraid to speak out about the problem, because of how “close to home” the fires have become.

“They don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to think so they just keep to themselves. They stay quiet, they don’t talk to nobody,” he said.

Saint John Mayor Don Darling says the city is aware of the fear and that they’re focused on dealing with dilapidated buildings.

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“What I want to say to those citizens is we hear you loud and clear,” Darling said.

“We would like the help of the neighbours and folks in the neighbourhood. If they see these suspicious activities, to get ahold of the police right away.”

— With files from Andrew Cromwell