Toddler rescued from burning duplex
Sudbury Star

A toddler was lowered from the second floor of a burning building into awaiting arms in the wee hours Sunday.

“The residents of the downstairs unit assisted in a rescue of one two-year-old child,” said Jesse Oshell, deputy fire chief with Greater Sudbury Fire Services. “They dropped the child from the second-storey window, and our crews arrived as that was happening.”

The call to the St. Joseph street home, overlooking the Louis Street Tot Lot, came around 4:30 a.m., said Oshell, just as crews were returning from another call that proved to be insignificant.

“It was very fortunate that we just happened to be nearby at that time of the morning,” he said. 

Flames were shooting through the roof by the time firefighters arrived, and two adults were still present in the upper unit.

“At that point the fire was encroaching on them and they were attempting to climb out,” said Oshell. “Our crewmembers assisted them out of a window on the second floor.”

All three residents were taken to hospital, he said, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and burns to one of the patients,” said Oshell. “There were reports that the patient, who appears to have been the grandmother of the child, may be transported to Toronto at this point.”

A dog was also rescued from the building, he said, and administered oxygen by firefighters, who have special equipment for treating pets.

On Sunday one of the ground-floor residents was also reunited with a black cat named Vader who was spooked by the event but seemed to be otherwise unscathed.

Oshell said the fire seems to have begun in an alcove and “spread very quickly to the second floor and roof area.”

The cause is “undetermined,” he said, and the Fire Marshal’s Office was on scene Sunday to investigate.

“We’ll update that when we have more,” said Oshell. “I’m not calling it suspicious at this time but it certainly is a fire we are investigating because of the circumstances.”

A lack of warning devices may have contributed to the extent of the blaze and the threat to human and animal life.

“We’re not sure if CO (carbon monoxide) alarms or smoke detectors were working in the home,” said the deputy fire chief. “I’m not going to say they weren’t, but certainly we want to remind residents that those two devices save lives. We don’t do these types of rescues often, which is a good thing, but when we see that it means that fire was burning for a while, undetected, so it’s something that certainly raises a flag.”

Oshell said it took about three hours to get the blaze under control, and crews remained on scene for five hours altogether.

“It was a stubborn fire, given the age of the building and the construction of it,” he said. “We found some building materials that were difficult to extinguish.”

A passerby familiar with the neighbourhood said the home was moved from Coniston many decades ago and had originally been a butcher shop.

Oshell said it was unfortunate that residents of the upper storey were injured but the outcome could have been far more tragic had it not been for the swift actions of the downstairs tenants and the fortuitous proximity of the fire trucks.

“Very lucky,” he said.

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