Construction crews and investigators with Ontario’s Fire Marshall’s office are continuing their work at Sioux Lookout’s Patricia Plaza seniors’ facility, after a major fire earlier this month.
The early morning February 4 fire forced the evacuation of 28 residents living within the 37-unit facility.
Now, Chief Administrative Officer with the Kenora District Services Board, Henry Wall, says eleven residents have been allowed back into their homes and work continues to rebuild the remaining 26 units.
“Our team, along with contractors and cleaning crews, have been working nonstop since the fire, seven days a week, to make sure the portion of the building that wasn’t destroyed by the fire [was livable].”
Wall explains while all of the building received some degree of smoke and water damage, the fire started within an addition to the original 1971 building – and fortunately, the addition had separate mechanical and electrical systems – giving the KDSB a bit of a lucky break.
“We were able to isolate the two and get the original building back up and running. Eleven residents were able to move back home, which was very good given initially what we were thinking when the fire started. We knew pretty early on that 10 or 11 units would need to be rebuilt. So, it was good.”
Still, Wall explains work continues on the remaining 26 units of the building and seniors are being supported in the community. Although, the CAO notes one individual is being supported at a hotel and two individuals are being supported at Sioux Lookout’s Meno Ya Win Health Centre.
“Just a reminder of what could have been…We had seniors in the building who had mobility challenges and cognitive challenges, and really should be in alternative care,” adds Wall.
“To still be in independent living units…it could have been a very different story if firefighters, paramedics and first responders work as quickly as they did to get everyone out of the building.”
“I think it speaks to the need of more long-term care beds in our communities, as seniors and elders are aging in place. It’s really highlighted that. And for communities to really look at their supports.”
“It’s a good opportunity to make sure all the pieces are there, especially in a post-pandemic world,” he adds.
The fire is under investigation of the Ontario Fire Marshall, and its cause hasn’t been released.
Sioux Lookout’s Salvation Army, Calvary Baptist, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, New Life Assembly and the Out of the Cold program all worked to collect donations for the displaced seniors.