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Ontario sees 1st firefighter death since 2011 after Kingston-area blaze

A firefighter with the Loyalist Township Emergency Services, who suffered fatal injuries battling a fire in Amherstview, Ont., Saturday has been identified as Patrick Pidgeon. It is the first death of an Ontario firefighter since 2011.

Patrick Pidgeon, 45, served with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan says Loyalist fire chief

Patrick Pidgeon, of the Loyalist Township Emergency Services, is the first Ontario firefighter to die on the job since 2011. (Facebook)

A firefighter with the Loyalist Township Emergency Services who suffered fatal injuries battling a fire in Amherstview, Ont., on Saturday has been identified.

Loyalist Fire Chief Fred Stephenson identified the man as 45-year-old Patrick Pidgeon, a husband, father and Canadian Forces veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. 

A statement from the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Sunday said its thoughts and deepest sympathies were with Pidgeon's family and friends. It is the first workplace death of an Ontario firefighter since 2011.

"They're a very tight-knit group," general manager and fire chief for the Town of Greater Napanee emergency services told CBC News. Grief counseling has been made available to firefighters and which will continue to be offered as long as needed, he said.

'The blackest smoke I've ever seen'

Firefighters were called to an apartment complex in the community just west of Kingston late Saturday afternoon. 

"It was the blackest smoke I've ever seen," Steve Davis told CBC News. "It's a tough job, running into something that most people want to run away from."

Loyalist Township firefighters responded to a blaze at an apartment complex in Amherstview, Ont., on Saturday afternoon. (Andrew Collins/Twitter)

A statement from Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Napanee said the fire was contained to a single apartment unit and that the firefighter was badly hurt at the scene before succumbing to his injuries in hospital. No one else was injured, according to the release.

"There was a lot of panic," Amherstview resident Colleen Le Clair says. "I thought personally, 'Oh, he's in there doing his job.' But then he started screaming for help. He was in trouble." 
Pidgeon's death prompted an outpouring of condolences on social media.

There's no word yet on the cause of the fire, however, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal is leading the investigation with help from the OPP and the Ontario Coroner's Office.

Patrick Pidgeon served two tours with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. (Facebook)
"I'm sure that the department is suffering right now," Chief Paul Boissonneault of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs told CBC News.

Boissonneault says the association is currently working on a national strategy for mental and occupational health support to address firefighters' work-related stress and trauma.

"We've got to make sure we're protecting the people who protect us," he says.

Amherstview is located approximately 250 kilometres east of Toronto and about 16 kilometres west of Kingston.
Ontario Provincial Police say the fire was contained to a single apartment unit. (Andrew Collins/Twitter)

With files from CBC News

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