Thursday, May 23, 2024

Highrise fire leaving 2 children, woman in critical condition deemed suspicious

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The Ottawa Police Arson Unit says the fire at an Overbrook apartment building that sent two children and a woman to hospital in critical condition Thursday morning has been deemed suspicious.


“Three patients, an adult woman and two children that sustained critical smoke inhalation as a result of the fire,” said Ottawa Paramedics spokesperson Marc-Antoine Deschamps. “They were all taken to hospital in critical condition with life threatening injuries.”


It started on the third floor at 1244 Donald St. at around 6 a.m. 


Crews say they were on scene four minutes into the initial call. When they arrived, they confirmed the heavy smoke in the building. They note that multiple residents were taking shelter at their balconies. The fire became under control at 6:54 a.m. 


Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Nick DeFazio told CTV News Ottawa crews had to rescue the two children and the woman from the the third floor and brought them ouside.


“(Once outside,) firefighters went on board the ambulances to help Ottawa Paramedics with resuscitation efforts while on route to the hospital,” Ottawa Fire Services said on X.


“Firefighters checked on residents on every floor and assisted multiple residents evacuate and administered oxygen to residents in their units.”


Deschamps told reporters in a media availability that there were 14 injuries in total. While six patients were treated on scene, five others were taken to hospital in stable condition.


Hundreds of displaced residents sheltered nearby after the incident. They have been able to board OC Transpo buses later in the morning to regroup at the Overbrook Community Centre, according to firefighters. 


City councillor Tim Tierney said the city’s main concern is “to ensure all residents are well,” noting that it is unclear yet how many have been displaced.


“Police, fire, paramedics, as well as OC Transpo are all coordinating,” Tierney said. “Red Cross is also assisting.” 



Ottawa Fire Services chief Paul Hutt said the highrise building has approximately 136 units. He said that 50 apartments were impacted by the fire, citing water and smoke damage. 


Numerous officers were dispatched to help the city’s fire department tackle the incident. Police say significant delays are expected in the area.


“The Ottawa Police Arson Unit will be investigating the fire, as it has been deemed to be suspicious in nature,” said the OPS in an news release Thursday afternoon.


Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Arson Unit at 613-236-1222, extension 2202.


A resident living on the seventh floor described the scene as “a disaster” with heavy smoke. 


“It was suffocating. You cannot even breathe. It was bad,” said Blessing Disasi. “I saw on the third floor it was all burned out. So it was just a disaster.”


With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Katie Griffin 

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