Students smoked out by fire

Student apartments and a pizzeria suffered $100,000 damage.
Student apartments and a pizzeria suffered $100,000 damage.

Gaby Hui, ArtSci ’07, got a rude—but potentially lifesaving—awakening the morning of Oct. 31.

“My roommate woke up and there was smoke all over her room,” Hui said. “She got out and she came to my room and banged on my door to tell me that there was a fire and we should get out.”

Hui said she didn’t smell the smoke because her room was at the front of their Princess Street apartment above Joe Dough pizzeria. Her roommate’s room was located at the back of the apartment, close to where the fire was.

“We were just lucky to get out alive,” Hui said.

The fire began in Joe Dough Pizza Co., located on the ground floor of the building, and spread to the back of the second floor. Two apartments above the pizzeria were affected by the fire.

Paul Patry, a spokesperson for Kingston Fire and Rescue, said the station was notified of the fire around 7:19 a.m. He said he doesn’t know who called the department, but said he thinks it was probably either a neighbour or a passerby.

The firefighters were still there when Tess Lofsky, Law ’07, returned to her neighbouring apartment from a friend’s house, where she had spent the night.

“I was a bit shocked,” she said. “But my apartment wasn’t really hit by the fire.”

By the time the fire was extinguished, the kitchen and storage area were both damaged, as well as one of the bedrooms. Hui said the kitchen appliances, a laptop and items in storage such as winter clothing were all damaged.

Lofsky said her apartment is damaged but she didn’t lose any of her belongings.

“There was some water damage, the ceiling was cracked [and] the wall was cracked,” she said. “[There was also] some sort of mud from the firefighters who had come through my front window.” Patry said Fire and Rescue is still trying to determine the fire’s cause.

“I’m not going to speculate at all,” he said.

He estimated the total damage for both the pizzeria and the apartment to be about $100,000.

“One of the problems that occurred was the fire ended up being between the floor [of the second floor] and the ceiling [of the ground floor],” he said.

Patry said he didn’t know how long the fire had been burning when Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene.

“That’s a really hard one to put a definitive time on,” he said. “Was it burning for hours? I would say probably not.”

Patry said a common problem arising from fires like these is that of insurance.

“The building would have insurance, which would take care of the building itself,” he said. “What … happens a lot with students is [the tenants] would be responsible to have their own insurance, a tenant’s policy.”

Patry said many students assume they’re covered by the insurance policies of their landlords, but that often this isn’t the case.

Hui said while her parents and her housemate’s parents have homeowner’s insurance, she isn’t sure if the property damage is covered by those policies.

“We were supposed to get, apparently, tenant’s insurance,” she said. “We’re still speaking to [Queen’s] Legal Aid about it.”

A spokesperson for the tenants’ landlord, the Springer Group, said he is unable to comment on the issue of insurance at this time.

Hui said she and her housemate found a new apartment at Princess Towers and can move in Dec. 1. Until then, the two are staying with friends.

“We’re both really grateful that our friends are doing this for us,” she said. “It’s just a hassle [for them], just getting in and out, having to bother them for things that we need and stuff.”

Lofsky said she is still living in her apartment, and that her landlord said he will repair the damage to the ceiling and wall. As of Thursday, Joe Dough pizzeria remained closed.

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