Cambridge ON P1, P2 A3, A4, R1, and Car 6 were dispatched to a possible fire on Sheffield Street November 20, 2017 at 13:50. Pump 2 reported smoke visible just after they left their hall two blocks from the fire. Heavy black smoke pushing from cracks and windows greeted firefighters as they arrived. All firefighting was defensive from the start. The building was brick with a truss roof measuring approximately 300 x 200’. The warehouse was used to store recycled cardboard and paper, plastic auto parts, acetone, and unknown chemicals. Fire was through the roof at the BC corner within 20 minutes of arrival and five minutes later part of the wall collapsed.
Both aerials were set up, and multiple 2.5” lines and monitors were deployed. Regional Police were asked to evacuate businesses downwind of the fire. Area residents were instructed to shelter in place and close all windows. Command was concerned with the runoff from the fire. City public works employees diked storm sewers as best they could to try to prevent runoff from flowing into the Speed River 300 feet away. Reserve A33 responded to the scene with overtime crews at 16:30. Additional firefighters were called in to staff the tanker and spare pumper.
The fire eventually spread through the entire building. All three aerials were used to fight the fire. There were numerous collapses over the next few hours. Heavy fire continued to burn throughout the building all night.
9-1-1 lines int the City of Guelph, 17 miles north west of Cambridge, were jammed with people phoning in to report the smell of acrid smoke in the area. A backhoe was brought in to start pulling the remaining walls down to allow firefighters to get at numerous hot spots throughout the building. Firefighters were still on scene as of 19:30 November 22 as I typed this report.
Cambridge Fire Prevention is working with the Ontario Fire Marshall to look for the cause of the $1,000,000 fire. Box 690 provided rehab for the first ten hours of the fire and was back on scene the next day topping up supplies. Cambridge had a small garage fire during this incident as well as a two serious auto accidents; one involving a patient being flown out on air ambulance. I arrived on scene 20 minutes after the dispatch. I got home at 2:00 and was back on the road 30 minutes later to a large shed fire in Wellesley Township on Road 116, 21 miles from our hall.