Unnamed hero with a ladder

Unnamed hero with a ladder
Fire in a Dufferin Street apartment building in Stanstead May 20 (Photo : Courtesy: Régie Incendie Memphrémagog Est)

Eyewitness talks May 20 Stanstead fire

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

On the night of May 20, 16 residents lost their homes due to a fire in a Stanstead apartment building on Dufferin Street.

One of those unfortunate people was Paul Nahirniak, who spoke with The Record May 28 to tell his story of that night and the daring escapes some tenants had to make from the burning building before firefighters arrived. He is still trying to find and thank one nearby local, an unnamed hero with a ladder that proved crucial to the rescue.

Nahirniak’s account begins with him watching a hockey game with his wife. His nephew, who was visiting, came in from outside and said he saw a tree on fire. Nahirniak pictured a tree outside burning, and prompted his wife to check. She discovered that it was a Christmas tree on her upstairs neighbour’s apartment’s balcony, “blazing and sparking away.”

Nahirniak, knowing his neighbour upstairs was inside their apartment, immediately ran out, yelling at them and calling 911 around 10:16 p.m. He also banged on a nearby neighbour’s door to wake her up, as she was asleep.

“I hammered and banged on that door like bloody murder to get her up,” he said.

The neighbours upstairs were in a panic, unable to escape as the balcony was blocked. A woman inside tried to douse the flames with water. A man in the apartment eventually managed to get a child out of a window, and another man, who Nahirniak referred to as the “ladder guy,” helped to lower both children there down.

Subscribe to read the full story

Share this article