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Fairwinds residents directed to find new homes

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Nearly two weeks after fire destroyed an entire wing of Fairwinds Lodge retirement home, no decision has been made about reconstruction and residents are being told to find a new home.

“Almost all 120 residents have new living accommodations and we are assisting the remaining few to find a home that meets their needs,” said Nadia Daniell-Colarossi, spokesperson for Fairwinds’ management company Sienna Senior Living.

Damage is still being assessed at the facility, which housed 120 residents at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Murphy Road, but there’s no question it will be in the millions.

The entire north wing was ravaged by the fire that started around 11 p.m. Jan. 15. Fairwinds is divided into three wings separated by fire walls. The north wing fire wall did its job and stopped flames from spreading, said chief prevention officer Roel Bus with the Sarnia Fire & Rescue.

However, secondary damage from smoke and water impacted the other wings, said Daniell-Colarossi. Assessments are still ongoing before any decisions are made about renovation or rebuilding and will take some time.

“We have no temporary solution,” Daniell-Colarossi said explaining why all residents have been asked to find another permanent home.

The majority of residents are either living with family or found alternative accommodation, but a handful are still at a local hotel.

“They can’t live there indefinitely so we have teams on the ground working with everyone, on an individual basis, to place people,” she said.

The company’s priority is to make sure everyone is housed and return as many of their belongings as possible.

“The process of reuniting residents with their belongings is underway,” said Daniell-Colarossi. “We are removing all contents from every suite, where possible, and scheduling time for residents to receive them at the home. 

“Some areas of Fairwinds Lodge suffered extensive damage, and steps are being taken to make those areas safe for our teams to enter,” she said.

Meanwhile, the investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office (OFM) finished his on-site investigation on Wednesday but his report won’t likely be released for weeks, said Bus.

The fire was accidental, however, the exact cause has yet to be determined. 

“The OFM is still exploring two possible ignition causes,” said Bus. 

Fairwinds employees, emergency responders, neighbours and the community are being credited with ensuring the evacuation went smoothly the night of the fire. No one was hurt.   

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