Two housing units in A Better Tent City in Kitchener were damaged in a fire on Thursday.
Emergency crews were called to 49 Ardelt Ave. around. 03.18
A few minutes later, an officer from the Waterloo Regional Police Service was driving on Highway 7/8 when he noticed the flames.
“I really could not believe what I saw,” said Const. Nolan Di Diomete.
He pulled over to the side of the road and saw a woman in distress who said she thought there was someone inside one of the units.
Di Diomete then jumped over a barbed wire fence and ran over to help.
“One minute feels like 10 minutes,” he said. “At one point, the flames spilled out of the side window of the fully engulfed unit, which then spread to the secondary adjacent building.”
Di Diomete was unable to get into the burning unit, but did get two people out of adjacent shelters.
The person living in that unit was not at home at the time, but was staying with a friend instead.
Di Diomete was the only one brought to the hospital for minor injuries he sustained by scaling the fence.
“I’m very happy that everyone involved in the shelter is okay,” he said. “And most importantly, I know the Kitchener community will rally around the victims affected by this.”
“We are incredibly proud of the quick-thinking actions of Constable Nolan Di Diometes,” Police Chief Bryan Larkin said in a press release. “[He] showed bravery by running towards the fire and ensuring the safety of the occupants. “
Nadine Green, the site’s coordinator for A Better Tent City, said residents were shaken by the fire early in the morning.
“People were shocked that they did not hear or see anything,” she said. “It was very cold, so it just puts the residents out.”
A Grand River Transit bus was brought in so residents had a warm place to stay while crews worked to extinguish the flames.
One of the housing units was severely damaged by fire.
“We’ll have to get [the resident] a new cabin, “said Green.” They can not stay in it, it is being torn down. “
Another unit also had minor damage.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service said the damage estimate is at least $ 5,000, while Kitchener Fire puts it closer to $ 20,000.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but police do not believe it is suspicious.
– With reporting by Ricardo Veneza