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Family displaced by Saint john fire says children are heroes

Click to play video: '4 families forced from their homes following Saint John fire' 4 families forced from their homes following Saint John fire
WATCH: Four families have been forced from their homes after a fire in the north end of Saint John Tuesday night. Tim Roszell has more – Jul 29, 2020

One of the families displaced by a fire in Saint John’s Crescent Valley neighbourhood says their son and two other children are heroes for seeking help when they saw the blaze.

Danielle Saunders lives with her four children in one of the units damaged by the fire.

She said she and her ex-boyfriend, Adam Grisdale, were outside the rear of the unit when their four-year-old son and two other children came to them for help.

“All three of them said, ‘Fire! Fire!'” Saunders said.

Grisdale and Saunders’ older son Kristopher quickly called 911.

“I run up the back stairs and knock on everybody’s door, telling them, ‘Get out, there’s a fire!” Saunders said.

READ MORE: 28 people displaced by apartment fire in Saint John

Crews with the Saint John Fire Service responded to a structure fire at 35-41 MacLaren Boulevard around 8:30 p.m., Tuesday and observed smoke and flames coming from the top of the building.

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The first crew on the scene opened a water line to fight the fire.

Three more crews joined shortly after to assist and to help evacuate people from the four-unit building.

Fire crews work to battle a blaze on MacLaren Boulevard in Saint John on July 28, 2020. Courtesy of Joseph Comeau

Officials with the Saint John Fire Service said, at one point, every on-duty firefighter attended the blaze.

There were no serious injuries, although Grisdale said he was treated for smoke inhalation.

Saunders said her unit also caught fire in 2013 which resulted in the death of a number of family pets.

“It was (Kristopher’s) bedroom that had caught fire,” Saunders said. “So it just brought back memories about that, and losing our four cats.”

READ MORE: Fire in Saint John’s south end sends 1 person to hospital

The building is divided into four separate units.

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There were 28 people displaced by the fire, including 21 children. They were all cared for by the Canadian Red Cross.

Jon Spicer, the Canadian Red Cross’ emergency management coordinator for southern New Brunswick, said volunteers were dispatched to the scene quickly to coordinate food and accommodations for the displaced families.

He said the 28 people were handling the challenging circumstances well.

“We have a great community here around them and so I think they’ve got a lot of community support,” Spicer said.

“But certainly, I think, in the days to come as they have to rebuild and get things back together I’m sure there will be some difficult times, for sure.”

Saint John Fire Service says that at one point all on-duty firefighters responded to the blaze in the Crescent Valley neighbourhood. Courtesy of Joseph Comeau

Saunders said her unit has smoke and water damage.

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She said she’s proud of her son and the two other children, both of whom are new Canadians, for their courage and quick-thinking.

“It’s amazing that a four-year-old and children that can’t speak our language can look for adult help,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Saint John Fire Service said officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

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