Fire damaged a home at the corner of Main and Green streets in Waterford on Thursday afternoon. No injuries were reported Thursday in a fire at a historic mansion in downtown Waterford.The fire broke out in an apartment at 180 Main Street South around 3:45 p.m. None of the seven tenants were home when the alarm went up and all had to be relocated once the situation was under control.The Norfolk County Fire Department reports that a third-floor tenant came home Thursday afternoon to discover the building’s fire alarm had been activated. The occupant discovered smoke coming from his apartment.“One of the occupants grabbed a fire extinguisher and opened the door in the hopes of fighting the fire himself,” Michael Atkins, a fire prevention officer with the Norfolk department, said in an email.“However, once the door was opened he quickly realized that the fire was larger than he could handle with an extinguisher, at which time he closed the door and exited the building to call 911.”Norfolk firefighters brought the situation under control quickly and managed to save the structure. Atkins noted that the occupant closed the door to the apartment when he realized he could not knock down the flames with the extinguisher. This was important, Atkins said, because it starved the fire for oxygen while preventing it from spreading into the hallway.Most of the damage was confined to the upper-level unit. An inspection determined that the flames had not spread to the attic.The cold snap that settled over southern Ontario this week presented local firefighters with additional challenges. Atkins said the wind chill at the scene was in the range of -40 degrees C.Firefighters were frustrated when they could not activate two hydrants in the neighbourhood because they were frozen. They were eventually forced open, but Atkins says this did not delay the firefighting effort.Atkins says the Norfolk department prepares for such contingencies during cold weather. Pumper trucks have a water supply of their own while tanker trucks are dispatched to all fires, even those in urban areas where hydrants are nearby.“The crews did encounter frozen caps on a couple hydrants,” Atkins said. “But they did access another hydrant before they even needed to use the water from the tanker trucks on scene. It had zero impact on the firefighting operations.”An investigation has determined that the fire is not suspicious. A cause has yet to be determined. A preliminary estimate pegs the damage at $250,000. Fire was restricted to the apartment unit in question but there is water damage in other parts of the building.The Norfolk department reports that the building is insured. However, it is not known if tenants were insured for contents.The 19th-century mansion was built as the home of the Becker and York families, merchants in the early history of Waterford. The Becker and York families were related by marriage to the Sovereign (sometimes spelled Sovereen) family, another of the town’s founding families.Karen Lindsay of Waterford, a member of the Waterford and Townsend Historical Society and a past executive member, said the mansion later served as a hospital and after that as a [email protected] Contributed photo
In a report, Danger Every Step of the Way, released today, UNICEF found that 7,009 unaccompanied children made the crossing from North Africa to Italy in the first five months of the year, twice as many as this past year. “It is a silent and desperate situation – out of sight and out of mind. Yet tens of thousands of children face danger every day and hundreds of thousands more are prepared to risk everything,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant crisis in Europe. “We urgently need to protect these children from all types of abuse and exploitation by those taking advantage of the situation to exploit their dreams.” The report documents the risks that adolescents take in their flight to escape conflict, despair and poverty. Unaccompanied children generally rely on human smugglers, often under a system of ‘pay as you go’, which opens them to exploitation, UNICEF said. A total of 2,809 deaths were recorded in the Mediterranean between 1 January and 5 June 2016, as compared with 3,770 for the whole of 2015. The vast majority were on the Central Mediterranean route – and many were children, according to the report. From Somalia to Italy, Omar’s miraculous story of survivalUNICEF noted that some adolescents are sexually abused and exploited. Italian social workers told the agency that both girls and boys were sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution while in Libya, and that some of the girls were pregnant when they arrived in Italy, having been raped. However, because of the illicit nature of human smuggling operations, there are no reliable figures to show how many of the refugees and migrants die, disappear into forced labour or prostitution, or linger in detention, UNICEF said. With summer upon the Mediterranean, the latest numbers of children on the Central Mediterranean route may well be just the tip of the iceberg, according to UNICEF. Another 235,000 migrants are currently in Libya, tens of thousands of them unaccompanied children. “Every country – those the children leave, those they cross and those in which they seek asylum – has an obligation to establish protection systems focused on the risks that unaccompanied children face,” Ms. Poirier said. “In the European Union and other destination countries, there is an opportunity for policy and legislative reforms to lead to more opportunities for safe, legal and regular channels for these children,” she added.