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Woman, dog killed in west end townhouse fire

A fire at a townhouse complex in Ottawa's west end has claimed the life of a woman and her dog.

Ottawa Fire says the blaze began around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Unit 35 of a townhouse complex at 2949 Penny Drive in the Michele Heights area.

Neighbours said the woman had been saved from the home, but ran back into the burning structure to save one of her dogs, an elderly Dalmatian.

Her second dog, a German Shepherd, was saved.

"I came home at there was smoke and when we came around the corner, the house was already on fire," said Jade, who lives just steps away. "There wasn't smoke billowing out the door yet. My boyfriend went around to the back to see if he could get to the back door, but there was a German Shepherd in the backyard, so he couldn't get through the gate."

"It was just a matter of minutes and it was just completely gone," she added. "Fire trucks got here, about 10 minutes after I did and then they just started their job.

A second alarm was called in for the fire, which eventually spread into the neighbouring unit, number 33.

The main body of the fire was knocked down at 8:20 p.m., and the blaze was declared under control less than 10 minutes later.

Damage is estimated at $500,000.

Neighbours gathered in disbelief to watch the fire, including young Kate Lopez.

"I saw the house burning," she said. "I pretty much saw it when it started and when it ended and it was hard for the little kids that were there. They didn't really know what was happening and then it's hard for the parents to tell them what happened."

Neighbours said the woman, who was in her 50s, had two sons, adding they were called to the scene by police.

They did not live with her.

"It kind of sucks that he didn't because maybe he could have, I don't know ... We all say that, 'Oh this happens, that happens, we all would have done this, we would have done that,'" Scott Stephen told CFRA. "We don't know until it's actually upon us."

Neighbours were mourning the loss of the woman.

"It's so sad because really we are all neighbours and we try to keep each other always," said Wendy Lopez, the mother of Kate. "We have good people here too, so for us it's like a family, right? Because everyone is always taking care of everyone here, so this is a loss for us. Everybody is concerned. Everybody is worried."

"A lot of people are mourning, like the ones that knew her," said Jade. "I guess she was here for quite a few years. It's sad watching somebody's home go up in flames."

Neighbours sat outside their homes Thursday, in what they've dubbed 'Kid's Court,' an area leading up to the charred home where children play. Toys were strewn on front walkways, a tiny toy car abandoned on the path.

"It's pretty nerve-wracking," said Jade of the fire. "Especially knowing that these places could go up that fast and connect that quickly. That's a whole other issue."

The community has plans to raise money for the families in the neighbouring units who have been displaced by the fire.

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