The Canadian Red Cross says up to 12 tenants were displaced after an “unusual incident” overnight at a historic apartment building in Saint John, in which a “structural failure caused the brick facade to come loose, sending hundreds of bricks crashing onto a sidewalk.”
The three-storey building, known as the William Vassie Residence, was built in 1879 as part of the reconstruction efforts after the Great Saint John Fire destroyed much of the city in 1877.
The building is located on Charlotte Street, opposite the historic Queen Square Park in the Trinity Royal Preservation Area.
There were no injuries from the falling bricks or other structural damage to the building, but there’s no indication yet on whether tenants may be able to retrieve their belongings as the building has been cordoned off and deemed structurally unsafe.
In a release, the Red Cross said volunteers are assisting a woman and two children from one apartment, and a couple with three children, including a four-month-old infant, from another unit with emergency purchases like clothing and food.
“Due to a lack of hotel rooms in the Saint John area over the New Brunswick Day holiday long weekend, those three adults and five children had to travel to Moncton to stay with relatives or friends but had no means of transportation, so the Red Cross also covered taxi fares from Saint John to Moncton,” the release said, adding that tenants of the third apartment did not need help from the Red Cross.
According to the release, the building was designated a local historic place “for its Italianate architecture, arched windows and decorative stonework.”
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