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Fairwinds Lodge preparing to reopen following devastating fire; Heroism award announced

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Cathy Dobson

Reconstruction at Fairwinds Lodge retirement home is set to begin within weeks, after a devastating fire displaced all 120 residents Jan. 15.

“We are extremely excited that we will be re-opening in two phases beginning this fall,” said general manager Tina Mel. 

The first phase involves re-opening the 71 suites located in the central and south wings of the retirement home that were not directly impacted by the fire.

The exact date for occupancy is not known but Mel said 12 former residents have already confirmed they will return. The dining room, kitchen and all recreational areas will also re-open this fall.

The north wing of Fairwinds Lodge, where renovations have started. (Cathy Dobson photo)

The second phase involves the three-storey north wing where the fire originated.  The top storey will be rebuilt while the other two storeys require some reconstruction due to extensive smoke and water damage. That wing will reopen some time in 2024, Mel said.

Fairwinds is hosting an open house Saturday, April 22 from 1 – 4 p.m. at Grace United Church on Cathcart Boulevard to discuss the re-opening.   

Fire broke out around 11 p.m. Jan. 15, putting into motion one of the largest  emergency responses the city has seen in years. About 75 fire fighters from Sarnia, Point Edward, St. Clair Township and Port Huron had the blaze under control by 1:30 a.m. 

Fairwinds staff, paramedics and other emergency personnel evacuated all 113 units quickly and smoothly. Family members and volunteers living in the surrounding neighbourhood near Murphy Road and Michigan Avenue pitched in to help. No injuries were reported and no one went missing. All residents were taken either by their families or transported to Lambton College where an emergency shelter was quickly set up.

Afterward, city officials called the fire response and evacuation one of the most well-organized in the city’s history.

Mayor Mike Bradley called it “flawless.”

On April 22, Bradley will be at the Fairwinds open house with local MPP Bob Bailey to congratulate those responsible for keeping residents safe under very trying circumstances.

The unnamed family of one of the residents recommended to Premier Doug Ford that Fairwinds’ employees and the city’s first responders should be recognized for a job well done.

“MPP Bailey will be presenting an award for the heroism of staff and first responders,” said Mel. “It was very kind of the resident’s family to contact the office of the premier.”

While renovations and reconstruction commences at Fairwinds, a sales office will open in May, she added.

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