Windsor fire retracts tweet, clarifies that 2nd person has not died in house fire

·3 min read
The home was heavily damaged and covered in ice following the fire.
The home was heavily damaged and covered in ice following the fire.

(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

After mistakenly tweeting that a second person had died from a weekend house fire, Windsor's fire department has now retracted the comment and clarified that the person is still being treated for their injuries.

"Not sure how that came about but we did receive incorrect information," said Jamie Waffle, deputy chief of operations for Windsor Fire. "As soon as we were made aware of the information that they were still alive that tweet was removed and we corrected that."

Waffle said he couldn't say where they got the inaccurate information from but added that this is "good news."

"Fire and burn and smoke inhalation injuries they're always difficult they can be touch and go for a long period of time so we're absolutely happy to hear that somebody is still alive and we're certainly praying for a good outcome for this," he said.

At this time, a 59-year-old man has died as a result of the fire, the department announced Monday. In addition to this, a woman has suffered life-threatening injuries.

Neither of the victims have been identified.

Firefighters responded to a blaze on Church Street at around 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, Windsor Fire and Rescue Services reported in a series of tweets.

The fire spread quickly and firefighters were racing to rescue the people inside, Waffle said. Throughout it all, crews demonstrated a "tremendous effort," he said.

A third person, who was living in the home at the time of the fire, sought refuge Monday at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope Windsor.

"No doubt any incident like this will be traumatic in nature but from all indications from our staff, they are doing well," said the shelter's executive director Danny Pinksen.

Pinksen said they were able to accommodate the man because they're not currently full.

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

He added that he's not aware of how many people were living at the home nor whether they were renting the space or not.

A neighbour, Mary Hoch, told CBC News she believes the building was condemned, but there was a fairly steady stream of people who were experiencing homelessness who visited it.

Pinksen said it's an especially hard time to be forced out of one's home.

"It must be a challenging time especially with the extreme cold temperatures that we've been having here in the Windsor region for those who normally stay outside," he said. "As a shelter we want as much as we're able, for those who avail our facilities, to have this warm, safe [and] comfortable environment."

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

Windsor police said the Major Crime Unit and Arson Unit are investigating.

Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal's office were on the scene Monday, working to determine what sparked the flames and where the fire began.

Neither the fire marshal nor Windsor Police had further updates to share about the status of the investigation on Tuesday.

Crews battled 5 city fires in about a week

The last eight days have been busy for Windsor Fire, with the department battling five fires across the city, Waffle said.

"It's been taxing on the crews and not only in the midst of COVID but in the extreme weather and the cold can be extremely challenging," he said.

Ice, wind, wet equipment and frigid temperatures add to the struggle, he added.

The fires in recent days are a reminder that people need to be aware of fire safety measures, Waffle said.

"This is a good opportunity in light of ... the rash of fires we've had over the last week, just for the public to really be aware of the importance of smoke alarms, and fire safety and having a fire safety plan. It's cold outside, be aware of how we're heating our homes and that we're doing those things in the safest possible way," he said.