pnwthc · 2021-03-26

Two more die after fire

Two more residents of an Orillia retirement home, gutted by an early morning fire on Jan. 19, have died.

As reported earlier, the January fire initially claimed the lives of Robert McLean, 90, and Hugh Fleming, 85, who died of smoke inhalation.

An official with the Office of the Fire Marshal has confirmed that two other residents of Muksoka Heights Retirement Residence have died.

However, spokesperson Bev Gilbert said he could not provide further details regarding the identities of the deceased, their ages or when they died.

“We can’t release anything else on that,” Gilbert told Orillia Today.

Further questions were directed to Dr. Dirk Huyer, regional supervising coroner.

Huyer would say only that, “We are now investigating four deaths.”

“The Coroners’ Act limits us from releasing any information without family consent, and even then we wouldn’t likely release it while the investigation is ongoing,” he added.

The coroner’s office can release information when it is warranted due to an issue of public safety, he said.

However, “There is no immediate public safety risk at this moment that would allow us to override the need for consent,” he added.

An investigation into the blaze is ongoing, as officials attempt to determine the cause of the fire that is believed to have started in the centre of the two-storey building.

Officials are sifting through and examining evidence trucked away from the severely damaged structure.

“They seized a lot of stuff from the scene and they are still examining that,” Gilbert said. “It is a very long, arduous process.”

Officials are continuing to speak with witnesses and are examining the home’s fire safety plan.

“It goes well beyond cause and origin,” Gilbert added of the investigation. “It goes on anything that might have impacted on the fire.

“One of the goals is certainly to prevent something like that from happening again, from ever happening period,” he added.

Huyer said a coroner’s inquest “certainly is possible,” but added that it was too early to determine whether that would happen.

Officials last month reported that seven residents of Muskoka Heights Retirement Residence remained in hospital, five of them in critical condition.