Windsor family lives 'emotional nightmare' as latest victims in series of suspected arsons
Windsor police say they are actively investigating the nine fire incidents in the city
The last few days have been an "emotional nightmare" for Jason Morrison and his family after his home in east Windsor caught fire over the weekend — the latest in a series of suspected arson fires across the city in a week.
Around 3 a.m. on Saturday, Morrison said his wife woke up to loud banging and realized that a tree and their backyard fence was on fire. In an instant, Morrison said she woke him up, they rushed out of the house with their 5-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son and called the fire department.
"It's just unbelievable. We're still stunned, we don't know what to think," Morrison told CBC News Tuesday. He said the loud bang is believed to have been a propane tank in a neighbour's shed that exploded.
According to Windsor Fire, the flames started in the shed, then spread to Morrison's house, three fences, decks and other sheds. The total damage is estimated to cost $500,000.
The fire at Morrison's home is one of nine fires that have taken place in Windsor since March 7.
According to a news release from Windsor police, a 32-year-old man from Walpole Island was arrested and charged with having set the fire outside of Morrison's home on Midfield Crescent in the Forest Glade neighbourhood.
Police said the man was also a suspect in a hit and run. Police located the man's vehicle, which was on fire, and shortly afterwards arrested the man.
Following the arrest, police saw the flames outside of Morrison's home and, through an investigation, charged the same man with that fire.
It's unknown whether the suspect is also linked to the other fires, though Windsor police said in an email Tuesday that they are still actively investigating all of the incidents.
They are being investigated as "suspicious" and police say they believe them to have been intentionally set.
"At this time, each fire is being investigated individually, however, officers are reviewing the evidence from each case to determine if any of the incidents may be related," police said.
The fires have taken place at the following locations:
- March 7: Residence fire in the 900 block of Bridge Avenue.
- March 8: Hotel room in the 1800 block of Huron Church Road.
- March 9: Residence in the 500 block of Church Street.
- March 9: Suspicious fires in the 400 and 300 block of Wyandotte Street West.
- March 10: Suspicious fire in the 300 block of Elliott West.
- March 11: Suspicious fire in the 500 block of Victoria Avenue.
- March 12: Residence in the 500 block of Janette Avenue.
- March 13: Residence in the 9600 block of Midfield Crescent.
A 43-year-old Windsor man was charged in the fire set to the hotel room on March 8. He is the only other suspect charged in the fires so far.
'What could have happened?'
While no one was injured in the fire at Morrison's home, he says things could have been worse had his wife not woken up at the right time.
"It's made us reconsider a few things like getting final wills and testaments and just realizing what could have happened if my wife didn't hear it," he said.
"It just makes you kind of fear like for the kids, like what would have happened if they lost us like? In the moment, we just thought 'get the kids the hell out of the house,' that's it."
He said "angry is an understatement" about how feels toward the person who set the fire. Police said the incident was not targeted.
The family is currently staying at Morrison's in-laws as the house has quite a bit of damage and needs to be repaired, Morrison said.
According to Morrison, the back side of the house and a large portion of the roof need to be rebuilt and the basement has a lot of smoke and water damage.
He said the Ontario Fire Marshal investigator told them if they're "lucky" they might be able to settle back into their house by Christmas.
"So we've got a long road ahead," he said.
But community members have stepped up to help, with people from Morrison's and his wife's work trying to help the family get back on their feet.
"The outpouring has been amazing," Morrison said.