Woman dead, man hospitalized after kitchen fire at New Waterford seniors' complex

·3 min read
New Waterford Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Thompson Street at 5:40 a.m. AT Sunday.  (Christian Roach/CBC - image credit)
New Waterford Fire Department responded to a structure fire on Thompson Street at 5:40 a.m. AT Sunday. (Christian Roach/CBC - image credit)

A woman was found dead and a man was hospitalized after a kitchen fire broke out in a 12-unit seniors' apartment complex in New Waterford, N.S., early Sunday morning.

Firefighters from the New Waterford Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call around 5:40 a.m. AT at one of two seniors' complexes on Thompson Street, near St. Leonard Catholic Parish Church.

Fire Chief Matt Hawley said firefighters noticed smoke coming from an apartment unit.  When they entered, there was a thick, heavy black smoke. The fire was in the kitchen area.

Hawley said they put out the fire and then found a dead person inside the apartment.

The woman's name has not been released. A man in the same apartment unit was burned and suffered smoke inhalation. Hawley said the man was taken to hospital, but his condition is unknown.

The Scotchtown Volunteer Fire Department also helped remove tenants from the single-storey building.

Residents stayed with family members or at a hotel in Sydney, N.S., while fire marshals and forensics investigated Sunday.

Christian Roach/CBC
Christian Roach/CBC

The Nova Scotia Housing Authority manages the building, along with another eight-unit seniors' complex about 30 metres away.

Shawn Luker is the director of the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority. He said the fire damage was minimal in other areas of the building, and was mostly contained to one unit.

There was smoke damage in the main hallway, which cleaning crews ventilated Sunday.

"We're cleaning out the rest of the hallway since it was released to us yesterday evening, and getting it ready for the tenants to move back in, which will be tomorrow," said Luker.

Luker said tenants were not able to enter the units, so the authority worked closely with the Red Cross to gather residents' necessities from their apartments, like medications.

"One gentleman needed his false teeth, which is an important piece for him to eat properly," Luker said.

Investigation ongoing

It's unclear what caused the fire, but Cape Breton Regional Police say there is no evidence of foul play.

An autopsy will determine the victim's cause of death.

The property has been released back to the housing authority by the fire marshal. Luker said once the cause of fire is determined, the authority will look to implement changes, like education sessions with tenants.

Mathew Mark walks the area near St. Leonard Catholic Parish Church often. He saw police and heard sirens Sunday.

"That's pretty crazy. It's a small town right and you don't really hear about a whole lot of that stuff around here, so it's a big shock," Mark said.

Hawley said it's a bad time of year for fires. "Hopefully we don't see it again... people are leaving windows open and stuff like that for breath," he said. "Fresh air will feed a fire, too."

"It's a tragic thing that happened. Nobody ever wants to see anything like that. So people got to be safe when they're cooking."

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