Dozens of Ottawa firefighters worked in freezing temperatures to extinguish a large fire that engulfed a commercial auto garage in the city’s west end on Wednesday.
The blaze broke out in an industrial area on Bentley Avenue, about two blocks south of West Hunt Club Road in Nepean, shortly before 11 a.m.
The building was evacuated and paramedics assessed seven individuals, two of whom were taken to hospital for minor smoke inhalation, according the Ottawa Paramedic Service. An eighth person drove himself to hospital but his injuries are unknown, paramedics said.
Ottawa police have closed access to Sunderland Street from Hunt Club Road and Bentley Avenue from Merivale Road, and continue to ask drivers to avoid the area.
As of about 1 p.m., firefighters were still attacking the fire using two ladders and water streams, focusing on dousing hot spots and identifying where the flames may have spread, Ottawa fire spokesperson Danielle Cardinal said.
“Because of the intensity and the speed at which the fire was progressing, it was a defensive attack,” Cardinal said. “Our firefighters’ safety was paramount so they remained on the outside of the building.”
Firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to large vehicles stored outside of the building and to neighbouring businesses, she confirmed.
As for the garage itself, Cardinal said the roofs had collapsed and two bays used for vehicle repair work had started to fall apart.
An investigation will be conducted into the cause of the blaze.
Cardinal said the 911 calls started pouring in around 10:47 a.m. from as far north as Baseline Road because the smoke was so heavy.
More than eight firetrucks and other Ottawa Fire Services vehicles were parked nearby by early afternoon, as well as a number of police and paramedic vehicles. A canteen truck and OC Transpo bus were brought on scene so firefighters could get some respite from the cold.
The wind chill in the late morning and early afternoon on Wednesday was just over -20 C.
Cardinal said firefighters responding to a blaze are typically rotated more frequently in extreme cold — and hot — temperatures.