A quaint little town east of Cornwall suffered a devastating blow last week when a house fire turned deadly, and consumed not one, but several homes.
Two of the three homes that caught fire on the morning of November 9 in Summerstown were “completely destroyed” while the other sustained “significant damage”. Many neighbouring residents were also displaced as a precaution and to escape the heavy smoke.
“It’s a densely populated residential area, and with the first residence completely engulfed there was a serious risk the fire would spread – and a serious risk to public safety,” said detachment commander Inspector Marc Hemmerick of the SDG OPP. “(OPP and South Glengarry firefighters) went door-to-door, they were waking people up, banging doors, screaming – just getting people out.”
Human remains were found at one of the fire scenes following the blaze, suggesting that the fire took at least one life. However, this could not be confirmed with certainty at the time of writing, since the cause of death had not yet been released (it’s possible, however unlikely, that the person was deceased prior to the fire).
County Road 2 – a major thoroughfare that runs mostly parallel to Highway 401 throughout Eastern Ontario – was closed in Summerstown for most of the day on Thursday. The area immediately surrounding the fire scene was closed for days as fire officials checked building structures to ensure they were still safe for habitation.
A resident of the affected neighbourhood told the CBC News that he saw a “huge ball of fire” and then heard a “blast”. He also explained that the houses near the St. Lawrence River in Summerstown are very close together, making them susceptible to a neighbouring home’s fire.
A reunification centre for families impacted by the Summerstown fires was set up by the Township of South Glengarry at Paul Rozon Memorial Park in Williamstown.