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Crisis team helped coax man from Queen Street house fire

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Journal Staff

Sarnia’s crisis intervention team helped coax a mentally distraught man from a Queen Street home as it burned in a fire Monday, Sarnia Police say.

Officers arrived in the 100 block of Queen shortly after noon to find a man causing extensive damage to the multi-unit building.

The 34-year-old had rushed upstairs and barricade himself inside, police say.

He also barricaded the stairwell, the only entry point, making it impossible for officers to climb the stairs.

Attending the scene was Sarnia’s two-person Mental Health Engagement and Response Team, comprised of a crisis nurse from the Canadian Mental Health Association and an officer trained in crisis intervention.

Members of the Sarnia Police Service Emergency Response Team also attended.

From the upstairs apartment, the man began throwing things down at police, including a TV, and flowerpots.

To add to the confusion, he began blaring music, making verbal communication difficult, city police said.

Officers had to shut down power to the unit so they could talk, and the crisis nurse and assisting officers continued their efforts to encourage him to exit the apartment, police said.

As the negotiations continued, officers noticed flames and smoke coming from inside and immediately began evacuating other occupants in the building as well as nearby residents.

As police talked to the man through the second floor back window it became obvious the smoke and fire were beginning to overwhelm him, but he was still reluctant to leave, police said.

Finally, the crisis nurse and officers were able to de-escalate the situation. The man was able to lower himself safely to the ground, where a mattress had been placed to land on.

The man was taken to hospital for observation and treatment and remains there, Sarnia Police said today.

Fire and Rescue extinguished the fire shortly after 2 p.m., but not before it could do extensive damage to the top floor.

Firefighters also saved a kitten and gave it oxygen and removed a baby rabbit from the burning building, which is located between Talfourd and Devine streets.

Sarnia Police said the investigation is continuing.




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