"We never saw it coming."
That's how Saint John firefighters at the Belmont Hotel fire 40 years ago remember the blaze at the historic Belmont hotel on King Square.
The call came in around 2am on January 31, 1978 and a few hours later while working in an alley on one side of the hotel, a brick wall collapsed trapping several firefighters. Firefighters Mike Case and Pieter Kalverboer were covered in tons of bricks and debris.
We asked firefighter Marc Carey of Local 771 if the two firefighters who suffered compound fractures to their legs ever came back to the job.
"Both members were able to succsessfully return to duty and have long and happy careers," Carey says, "although their injuries did plague them for the rest of their careers and still do to this day."
It was nearly two years before Case and Kalverboer could return to work.
Carey says it's an important training tool for their younger members to know these things can happen and that Saint John has some of the oldest housing stock in the country.