Midas shop owner, son injured in fire

'It just took the whole business down in seconds'

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The day started just like any other for Patsy Oneil.

She and her family come into work every morning at 7:30 a.m. to work on cars at the Midas shop they’ve owned for about 12 years, located at the corner of Main Street East and Fisher Street in downtown North Bay.

That all changed Monday morning after a fire broke out at the vehicle repair shop, resulting in her husband and son being taken to hospital.

“My whole life is in there right now,” Oneil told reporters outside as firefighters tackled the blaze nearby.

The call came in at approximately 10:42 a.m. Heavy black smoke could be seen from Fire Station 1, with witnesses also reporting seeing the fire from as far out as Algonquin Avenue and Walmart.

Oneil herself had stepped out for a few minutes to stop at Walmart and said it’s the first time anything like this has happened.

“Unfortunately, there was an accident and it just took the whole business down in seconds,” she said.

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All Oneil knew when the fire started was that her husband and son had received some burns. But because she wasn’t there at the time, she said she didn’t know yet how it happened.

“All I know is it blew up,” she said.

Fire Chief Jason Whiteley said when firefighters got to the scene, they immediately dealt with two injuries and went into a defensive attack mode.

He confirmed the two people who were taken to hospital work at the shop. However, the extent of their injuries is not known at this time.

Stephen Kirk, paramedic chief for Nipissing Paramedic Services, said due to restrictions on the release of personal health information, he could not release any details about the status of the individuals who were treated.

On a cause for the fire, Whiteley said work was taking place on a vehicle at the time, but no further details are available.

The fire, which was contained to the Midas building, “really took off” on firefighters, he said, due to the number of acetylene tanks, as well as oil, fuel and lubricant storage, inside the building.

“Especially with the amount of hydrocarbons contained in a motor-vehicle repair shop like this, it is extremely dangerous,” Whiteley said.

Getting inside the building also proved difficult due to the amount of thick black smoke coming from all of the “hydrocarbons” inside, he added.

The fire also extended into a false ceiling in the office area.

Whiteley said the fire marshal’s office will be coming in to assist with the investigation.

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“We can’t see exactly where things are, we can’t get in to get water directly on where the dangers are. You’ve probably heard we’ve got tires popping in there, letting go … other cans letting go, as well,” Whiteley said.

Sparks could be seen briefly coming from power lines on the other side of the building on Fisher Street.

North Bay Hydro spokesperson Neil Russell said in a statement to The Nugget that hydro was called to the scene “to remove the presence of electrical energy at the location to ensure the safety of responding emergency services, people affected by the fire and area residents.

“We are keeping those affected by this morning’s incident in our hearts.”

North Bay police corporate communications officer David Woolley said the service cannot provide personal information or health-care details.

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