HALIFAX—Kennedy Turner was making chicken-noodle soup in her north-end Halifax home shortly after noon on Thursday when her boyfriend told her something outside didn’t sound right.
“I just heard a loud pop, and we came outside and we looked, and there was Joe our neighbour who lives across the street,” Turner recalled in an interview at the scene.
“He was running out, he had a fire extinguisher, and you could just see the smoke go everywhere. It was insane. And then I called 911, and as soon as I called 911, the house just went boom. It made a noise and it just went up in flames.”
Mike Blackburn, district chief with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, told reporters on scene in the Hydrostone neighbourhood that while the fire’s origin has yet to be determined, it appears to have started at the 5526 Sullivan St. home.
The fire affected three other homes in the residential neighbourhood. Blackburn said two homes suffered “significant” damage.
No people were injured, and an iguana was saved. When firefighters emerged from the charred doorway with a glass aquarium, a man rushed over and gently took the animal out to check it over.
Halifax municipal spokesperson Brendan Elliott said a cat that was in the home died despite the best efforts of firefighters to revive it.
“They were pretty distraught,” Blackburn said when asked how the home’s occupants were doing. “However, with that said, everybody is safe and sound, which is the most important thing.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Canadian Red Cross in Atlantic Canada said the fire displaced eight people from two houses on Sullivan St. The organization said its disaster volunteers arranged emergency purchases like clothing, food and other basics for two adults and two teenaged boys “from the house that received the most damage.” The Red Cross noted the family is staying with friends for now “while awaiting an assessment and additional help through insurance.”
The Red Cross team hasn’t yet had contact with a family of four that rented the second damaged house but said it will offer them similar assistance if required.
Turner said she’s certain people in her “awesome” neighbourhood will rally around those affected. She said her neighbour Joe lived in the house with his wife, two sons and their cat, dog and iguana.
Turner did not provide Joe’s full name. The Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies lists a Joseph Salter as a partner of Billard Boys Handyman Services, with a registered office and mailing address of 5526 Sullivan St.
“He’s always been super great to talk to; he’s very nice, him and his wife both,” she said. “I see his kids outside all the time playing basketball, shooting hoops, fixing their bikes, doing all that kind of stuff. They’ve just been really awesome neighbours like right from the start.”
Turner said her neighbour Joe’s dog was safely tucked away in her house enjoying the air conditioning. She said she is grateful she was home and able to call 911 quickly, adding she won’t soon forget the day’s events.
“When Joe tried to go back inside to get the cat, I was like, I had to scream at Joe, ‘No, you’re not going back inside to get the cat, you’re staying outside,’” she recalled. “I’m just glad that everyone’s out, everyone’s safe, everyone’s OK.”
Yvette d’Entremont is a Halifax-based reporter focusing on health. Follow her on Twitter: @ydentremont