Rideau Lakes fire chief calls for vigilance after Elgin blaze

An Elgin family who lost their mobile home to a fire Dec. 1 still hasn’t found a home to rent, despite contacting various rental companies and emergency housing.

“As of today, the family is being ripped apart even more. Family members are going to different places … we are being separated,” Wanda MacDonald said, of her family’s situation on Dec. 4.

Her three children, ages 18, 21 and 22, are staying at their friends’ houses. MacDonald and her partner are staying at her dad’s home.

MacDonald said that the GoFundMe donations set up for her family will be used toward the first and last month’s rent, however, “nobody is giving us a chance,” she said. “We’re not asking for a handout, we just want a home to rent.”

She is looking for a three- or four-bedroom rental unit in Elgin, Westport, Portland, Seeley’s Bay, Brockville or Lansdowne.


Rideau Lakes’ deputy fire Chief Mark Mcfalls was first to arrive at 15 Wilson Ave. around 10 a.m. Dec. 1.

According to fire Chief Scott Granahan, the deputy chief found a motorcycle and a car “heavily involved in fire, and that fire had spread to the carport area.”

The chief explained that Mcfalls’ role is to gather intelligence, report back and to put a fire tactical plan in place. Granahan said that all four Rideau Lakes' fire stations (Elgin, Portland, Delta and Westport) were paged and involved in some manner, including a tanker assist from Leeds and the Thousand Islands.

Granahan said that “mobile homes tend to be at greater risk; it’s the way they’re put together. (For a carport fire) there’s nothing holding it back. Once it spreads, it gets going quickly, and spreads into the home quicker than a garage fire.”

Rural fires are particularly challenging, as fire stations are more spread out, and “it’s not as easy as an urban centre where you can just pull up to a hydrant,” the fire chief said.

“It is very typical for small towns in Ontario for responses to sometimes take longer during the day. The deputy chief was there within four minutes, and the fire crew did a great job for what they experienced when they arrived,” Granahan added.

To prevent future fires especially during the holidays, the fire chief wanted to remind residents to water Christmas trees daily and to inspect Christmas lights for damage and frays before installation.

“Ensure there are working fire alarms on every storey of the home, and outside sleeping areas, along with a carbon monoxide alarm. They only work to alert the residents, so practicing and having a fire escape plan, is more important,” he said.

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