Ontario Fire Marshall’s office investigating Six Nations fire that took life of a child
Updated 1:30 P.M. Monday Dec., 11 2017
By Lynda Powless and Chris Pimentel
OHSWEKEN, SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND-Six Nations and surrounding communities are responding with an outpouring of donations to a family of nine who lost a three year old in a fire last Friday.
Donations have piled up and the family is asking the very generous community to stop donating clothing at this point as they sort through the mounds of clothes that have come from Six Nations and surrounding communities.
The cause of a fire has not been determined, Ontario Fire Marshall Ross Nichols said in a press conference at the Six Nations Band office Saturday morning.
Six Nations fire fighters responded to a two story house fire Friday at about 11:36 a.m.where a three year old child was trapped in the second floor of the house at 1871 Fourth Line Road. Fire Chief Matt Miller said bystanders had gotten six of the seven children out before fire arrived on scene.
Six Nations Fire Chief Matt Miller suffered smoke inhalation after he and three others entered the building to rescue the child trapped on the second floor. Fire Chief Miller returned to the fire about an hour after being treated at hospital.
Fire Chief Miller said he and another firefighter had found the young boy under his bed and were coming down the stairs with him over his shoulder when he lost his footing on a step and his mask was jarred. They continued on to the outside where the child was treated with CPR by another firefighter and turned over to paramedics. Six Nations fire, police and ambulance were all on scene. The house was fully engulfed in flames and heavy smoke when Six Nations firefighters arrived.
The three year old boy was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced deceased a short time after arriving.
At a press conference Saturday Miller said all but one of the seven children were outside the house when firefighters arrived.
He said Firefighters initiated an “aggressive offensive attack of the fire in order to gain entry to the second floor.” At the same time firefighters were attempting to gain access to the second floor posting ladders to outside windows attempting to gain access to the second floor and conduct searches, he said, “but were unable to gain entry due to advanced fire growth within the structure.”
He said firefighters were able to knock the fire back enough to allow two separate search teams to make entry through the south side door way and gain access to the interior staircase to the second floor.
In the east side second floor bedroom an unconscious child was located underneath a bed. The child was extricated from the home and transferred to the care of Six Nations Paramedics.
Resuscitation efforts were initiated by Six Nations Paramedics with the assistance of Six Nations Firefighters and the child was transported to West Haldimand General Hospital. Upon arrival at hospital resuscitation efforts were continued by Hospital staff, Ornge Flight Paramedics, Haldimand County Paramedics and Six Nations Paramedics & Firefighters.
Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the 3 year old child was pronounced deceased
Seven children in total were transported to hospitals for assessment and treatment. Two children were taken to Toronto Sick Children’s hospital. They were expected to be released Sunday.
“It’s a tragic situation for the community,” he told reporters. “I can’t imagine what the family and friends of the family are going through. There is nothing I can say adequately to express our support to the family, and supporting each other, as emergency services, to get through this difficult time.”
He said unfortunately First Nations people are 10.4 times more likely to die in a fire in a first nations community in Canada. “At Six Nations, he said, we average three house fires a month. We train every day for this. We do what we can to prepare for this. But, unfortunately we do not always make the outcome we should have.”
Sgt Marwood White said Six Nations Police would like to express their condolences to the family.
The three week old is in West Haldimand General Hospital in serious condition . Others were taken to Brantford General Hospital.
Brant County firefighters assisted at the scene. Fourth Line Road between Chiefswood Road and Tuscarora Road was opened up by 5 p.m.. It had been down to one lane at the fire site while the investigation continued. Six Nations Police are also investigating.
A fire crew was on scene until the building was torn down Monday.
Fire Chief Miller said a total of seven Fire Apparatus responded along with 17, Six Nations Firefighters. nine Brant County Firefighters and members of the Oneida First Nation Fire Department were also on scene assisting Six Nations with scene security and the fire investigation.
The cause of the fire at this time is unknown, and there is currently no damage estimate.
Six Nations Senior Administrative Officer Dayle Bomberry said the community has come together to help the family and anyone in need of help or counselling there is a 24 hour crisis hotline 519-445-2204 and 1-800-445-2204. A Go-Fund me account has been set up for the family. The original target of $5,000 was reached by Saturday and the target increased to $10,000. There is an agency off reserve collecting donations to help support the family.
The family does want to thank everyone for their donations, Bomberry said and are asking for privacy while they deal with the loss.
Elected Chief Ava Hill said “it has been a pretty tragic week around Six Nations for our community. She said it is difficult to lose anyone, especially a young child. “It is a tragic event.”
She told the media, “We have one of the finest fire services in a first nation. I think they did an excellent job. They did their best, we don’t always get the results we hope for but our heart and condolences go out to the family.”
She thanked the media “for being here, showing support not only to our community but everybody in the surrounding area , who are far and wide reaching out to us for support. And I want to thank Fire Chief Matt Miller for his fine work and his dedication to our fire services. He has worked hard over the past year to bring our service up to the status it has as one of the finest fire services on any first nation across the country.”
Calls have gone out for donations to help the family of nine that lived in the home and lost everything. Clothing is no longer needed as the family sorts through the mounds that have been donated.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to please contact the Six Nations Police at 519-445-2811 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477
(TIPS) or www.crimestoppers-brant.ca.