OFM investigating – updates on serious fires on Russell and Montreal Streets

Update (Thursday, Jun. 8, 2023):
For its part, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) has now officially confirmed its investigators have taken the lead on both residential fires that occurred in Kingston on Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023. The fires, one at 48-50 Russell Street and the other at 786 Montreal Street, both resulted in injuries. At the same time, the OFM has confirmed its investigation into the fatal fire that occurred at 895 Montreal Street on Thursday, Mar. 30, 2023, remains ongoing.

Original article (Wednesday, Jun. 7, 2023):
After two separate residential fires in Kingston sent multiple people to hospital on the same day, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) has been called in to investigate both cases.

Fire Inspector Delbert Blakney with Kingston Fire and Rescue confirmed the OMF had taken over both investigations while on scene at the Russell Street property where fire broke out on the morning of Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023.

Blakney provided an update on the status of the person who was transported to hospital in critical condition from the Russell Street address.

“He did get air-lifted to Toronto,” Blakney said, noting that the patient’s burns were “serious” and affected more than 50 per cent of his body, so he was transferred from Kingston General Hospital (KGH) to Mount Sinai in the provincial capital.

Kingston Fire & Rescue, Kingston Police, and the Ontario Fire Marshal on scene at the duplex on Russell Street on Wednesday, Jun. 7, 2023, where fire broke out the day before. Photo by Kingstonist.

Blakney then turned his attention to the fire that occurred later in the day on Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023, at a residence on Montreal Street. That fire, as previously reported, sent three people to hospital; a mother, who seemingly rescued her two children from the blaze, and those two children, one aged one-and-a-half, the other an infant.

Noting that Kingston Fire and Rescue crews were dispatched to the Montreal Street fire just after 1:30 p.m., Blakney said, “on arrival, the firefighter saw heavy smoke coming out of the back of the building, and a mother had come to the front yard with her two children and kind of collapsed.”

“We firefighters provided care for mom and the two children, and contacted the paramedics to respond,” he said.

“Then the second crew advanced the hose line to the back to attack the fire, and searched to see if there was any other occupants.”

Luckily, no one was trapped inside the residence, and paramedics quickly responded and transported all three patients to KGH. Blakney detailed their injuries, noting that the mother sustained serious burns to her hands and arms.

“The one-and-a-half-year-old boy has quite a bit of burns to his back, and then the other [child], the infant, it was, I believe, minor burns to the face.”

Kingston Fire & Rescue and Frontenc Paramedic Services on scene Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023, after three residents escaped fire at the 786 Montreal Street residence with non-life-threatening injuries. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

In response to Kingstonist inquiries yesterday, Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2023, Kingston Police confirmed they attended the Montreal Street fire this morning.

“Kingston Police is assisting the Kingston Fire Inspector with this ongoing investigation at 780 Montreal Street. One adult and two children were transported to KGH as a result of this fire. Their injuries are considered non-life threatening,” said Const. Ash Gutheinz, Media Relations Officer with Kingston Police, in an email. Gutheinz confirmed that the OMF invoked their mandate to investigate the Montreal Street fire.

Kingston Police are asking anyone with information regarding the Montreal Street fire to contact Det.-Sgt. Blair Watt at 613-549-4660 ext. 6320, or via email at [email protected].

Kingstonist has inquired with the OMF as to when and why they became involved in the Montreal Street fire investigation, as well as if there are any updates on the cause of either fire. At the same time, Kingstonist requested an update on a completely separate fire on Montreal Street earlier this year, which claimed the lives of two residents and has been under investigation by the OMF since. No response was received by time of publication.

Kingstonist will continue to provide updated coverage on these two investigations as more information becomes available.

Editorial note: Following the publication of this article, the City of Kingston issued a press release regarding the “measures” the City has taken to “ensure tenant safety. The following is information the City provided in that press release.

“Following the fatal structure fire earlier this year near the intersection of Montreal Street and John Counter Boulevard, the City has taken specific and proactive measures with respect to numerous rental properties in the City that have been identified as potential high-risk. Inspections have been conducted at dozens of properties in the last two months, and work continues to ensure the properties are being maintained in accordance with applicable legislation, including the Fire Protection and Prevention Act,” the City stated in the press release, issued just after 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Jun. 7, 2023.

“Where violations are found, the City is taking appropriate enforcement action, including issuing orders, and/or implementing measures to rectify violations that pose an immediate threat. Kingston Fire and Rescue and City staff are working collaboratively with the City’s Housing and Social Services Department to address issues of tenant health and safety and to offer services and support where appropriate.”

The City suggested that any tenants who are “experiencing a problem that has not been resolved by the landlord/superintendent and/or property owner” report any property deficiency by contacting Property Standards at [email protected], or 613-546-4291 ext. 3135. Complaints can also be submitted online through the City of Kingston Property Standards webpage.

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