Nepean housing complex at 38 Northview Rd. is awaiting investigation as to what caused the fire. Laura Bode is one of five Algonquin students displaced after the blaze

Laura Bodé didn’t know she would be rescuing her recently adopted rescue cats, Harley Quinn and Toothless, from flames that licked and scorched the walls surrounding the very place she sat in earlier that day.

A four-alarm fire tore through 42 homes at a Nepean housing complex on March 12 which displaced more than 70 residences including second-year advertising student Bodé and five other Algonquin students.

Getting her cats out of the burning building and black smoke was the first thing on her mind when the fire alarms started screaming.

“I basically put one cat in my arms and the other cat in the carrier and rushed out,” said Bodé. “I’m so thankful we were able to get them out.”

The flames that broke out at 38 Northview Rd. took hours to extinguish, causing $3.5 million in damages. The Ottawa Fire Services said no firefighter or residents were injured during the blaze.

More than a dozen phone calls were made as thick, black smoke rolled out the shattered windows just steps away from where OC Transpo would send buses to keep displaced residences warm. Shortly after, Red Cross would reach out to all those whose homes they could not enter to offer assistance.

Ontario Fire Marshal William Hay said the fire was likely caused by a discarded cigarette thrown off the balcony of the three-story unit, however an investigation is ongoing.

“I don’t think a cigarette would leave 70-plus people homeless,” said Nicole Leanne, a mechanical engineering student at Algonquin also affected by the blaze. “But I try not to think about the cause. Staying positive and being productive are all I’m trying to do.”

If you wish to help Algonquin student Laura Bodé, you can find her GoFundMe under “Help Andrew and Laura Fire Fund” on the website.