Just after 12 p.m., black smoke and flames were seen coming out of a doorway leading to an apartment above a vacant storefront at 92 Queen St. S, just metres away from the intersection at Charles Street.
Employees at neighbouring stores — Candy Candy Candy and Far Out Flicks — quickly notified emergency services.
“We heard the fire alarm go off … we realized it was an internally wired fire alarm,” said Sharon Watson from Candy Candy Candy.
“I went out and walked up the block, pushed open the door and smoke came out.”
Watson said her husband called 911 and then alerted people in other businesses in the building.
“The first caller had heard the fire alarm go off in the unit next door — that was part of why we got here so fast,” said Platoon Chief Steve Zurell of the Kitchener Fire Department.
By the time Watson and other occupants of the buildings along Queen Street made it to safety, she said police were already arriving.
“I was grateful that we were connected to that fire alarm,” Watson said while standing among the growing crowd watching firefighters at work.
Ray Leyes lives in the building but was working at Far Out Flicks when the fire started. He was grateful when fire crews reunited him with his cat, Sip, who was in the apartment.
“She wasn’t out where the fire was, she was in the back area I think,” he said, but added that Sip seemed shaken by the incident.
No one was injured in the fire, however tenants of the two units on the second floor of the building will not be able to return for some time due to damages, Zurell said
The neighbouring businesses were unaffected.
“We checked all sides of the building and everything was fine,” he said.
Damages are estimated at $50,000.
The cause has yet to be determined. Police and fire officials are continuing the investigation.