MOUNT FOREST – The Office of the Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate the cause of a fire at a Mount Forest home this past weekend.
On Sept. 19 at 5:15pm, the Wellington North Fire Service responded from stations in Mount Forest and Arthur with four trucks and around 20 volunteer firefighters to a fire in the basement of a house on North Water Street West.
Wellington OPP and the fire service closed off a portion of Main Street South between Miller Street/Parkside Drive and North Water Streets on Sunday.
A hose snaked its way from a hydrant down North Water Street past neighbours adjacent to the home who talked amongst themselves while looking on at the house from beyond a row of bushes. A hazy smoke lingered out front of the house in the late afternoon sun.
The Advertiser observed a man laying on a stretcher, rolled away by paramedics from Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service.
A long-time neighbour in the area, who wished not to be named, said the man transported by paramedics had been renting out the basement and had helped with their yard work, describing him as a good neighbour.
He looked in rough shape when he followed firefighters out from the home, the neighbour said.
Wellington North Fire director of services Chris Harrow confirmed on Monday firefighters extinguished a “small fire” in the basement of the home and led one man out, who was able to walk on his own.
He was treated for smoke inhalation and transported to a hospital by paramedics.
Fire crews were on scene for around two hours before turning the residence over to police, who as of Monday morning, were securing and holding the scene for further investigation and to prevent tampering with evidence.
“At the request of the OPP, the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) was contacted to assist with an investigation into the origin and cause of the fire,” OFM spokesperson Sean Driscoll stated in response to an email from the Advertiser.
“As to why the OPP called, OFM’s assistance was requested as per the Fire Marshal’s directive. As this is an ongoing police investigation, I cannot speculate as to the reasons why the OFM was called.”
Wellington OPP media staffer Josh Cunningham said it’s too early to say if the fire is suspicious.
“There’s nothing that we have that indicates exactly what happened,” he said in a phone call, adding the OFM “will be able to identify if there’s something that should be investigated further.”
Cunningham said the scene will be “kept” as long as needed should further investigation be warranted – if not, it’s turned back over to the owner.
Cunningham wasn’t sure if officers had yet followed up with the man who was transported to hospital but said “that’ll be something that would be done in an investigation.”
Police and fire officials said they are unsure if there are tenants renting out the home, who owns the home and if anyone else was in the residence at the time of the blaze.
It’s unknown if anyone has been displaced from the home because of the fire. The man’s condition is also not known.
An OFM fire investigator has been assigned to the scene and was expected to arrive on Monday.
“Once on the ground, [the investigator] will systematically analyze the scene, and using a scientific fire investigation model, will try to determine the origin and cause for the fire,” Driscoll said.
“As it [is] very early into the investigation, it may be awhile before we have results to share.”
Once the investigation is completed, a report will be provided to police and fire services.