2 residents in critical condition after St. Thomas nursing home fire

Officials responded to a fire at Caressant Care at 15 Bonnie Place at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Officials said seven people were taken to hospital, including four residents

Officials were called to the blaze at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating an overnight blaze at a St. Thomas nursing home that left two residents in critical condition.

Officials responded to Caressant Care at 15 Bonnie Place around 9:30 p.m. Saturday after a fire broke out in one of the rooms.

Officials said seven people were sent to hospital, including four residents, two nursing home staff and one firefighter. Two residents remain in critical condition on Sunday.

"The fire was isolated to one of the rooms in B wing," said Clive Hubbard, fire investigator with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management.

Clive Hubbard is a fire investigator with the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"[A sprinkler system] did a fairly good job at suppressing the fire in that room … [Firefighters] limited the fire growth and spread to just a portion of the room that it initially started in," he added, noting the fire was controlled by midnight.

The extent of the damage remains unclear. Hubbard said it's not "astronomical."

All off-duty personnel were called in to assist with the blaze. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Wing evacuated

More than 30 residents were moved to the north side of the nursing home, police said. They were housed in 15 rooms and additional spaces.

Fire officials say the blaze broke out in one of the rooms in wing B. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Two residents were transferred to another nearby Caressant Care nursing home on Mary Bucke Street. 

Several St. Thomas city buses kept residents warm overnight. Police said a nearby homeowner also offered up space for residents. 

Stuart Oakley, communications and marketing manager at Caressant Care, said nursing staff were called into work earlier on Sunday to help out. 

"Our focus now is caring for our residents and working with authorities as they move through the investigation," he said.

"[Staff] are trying to make it as much as business as usual for residents. There are staff there that are looking after their needs and making sure they're as comfortable as possible and really making the best of what is obviously a difficult situation," he added.

'We were quite concerned'

Marty Jones lives down the street from the nursing home, where her 92-year-old mother lives.

Jones said she attended the scene Saturday along with other neighbours in the community.

Police and fire officials remained on scene Sunday morning. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"We were quite concerned," she said. "I really didn't know for a couple of hours whether or not [my mom] was one of the people who went to the hospital or not."

Jones later discovered her mother was among the residents who were moved to the other wing.

"I didn't know if she was going to be left sitting up all night in her wheelchair in the dining room," said Jones, who later learned her mother slept on a bed in a separate room.

Jones, who's lived in the area for some 30 years, said "you often hear ambulances going down and maybe fire trucks. It's not unusual. It's usually nothing too serious. This was the first time it was something serious."

She said she was impressed with how first responders handled the incident.

Hubbard also applauded their efforts.

"There are a lot of residents that are somewhat disabled and incapacitated so they need assistance in getting around and in their mobility. I think without quick action of staff and first responders, we could've had significantly more injuries and more damage here."


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