Fatal fire in Sudbury's Donovan neighbourhood deemed suspicious

Sudbury fire officials say police and the fire marshal have been called in to investigate a suspicious fire where one person was found dead.

It happened around 1 a.m. Tuesday at a four-unit apartment complex on Antwerp Avenue in Sudbury's Donovan neighbourhood.

Crews from five fire stations were called to the scene and as they arrived, the front of the building was heavily engulfed in flames, deputy fire chief Jesse Oshell told CTV News.

He said heavy smoke and flames hampered search efforts when firefighters started the initial attack on the fire.

"While crews were performing their search and getting the fire under control the fire escalated to a point where we had to withdraw from the building," OShell said. "We were only able to perform a small search, we weren't able to complete it. We were unable to confirm that all residents were out of all of the units."

He said firefighters worked quickly to get water on the blaze and when it was safe to resume the search, one person was found deceased inside one of the units.

"At this time, we do not have a confirmed identity of the deceased person. We are working in collaboration with the coroner's office and the Ontario Fire Marshal. The investigation into this incident is ongoing," Sudbury police said in a news release.

Five other tenants were able to evacuate to safety and will be taken care of by family or alternate accommodations will be arranged by the building's owner, Oshell said. All pets were safely evacuated.

No word on the cause of the fire.

Paige Dénommé lives nearby. She told CTV News she was woken up by sirens and radio chatter from the fire trucks around 1:10 a.m.

Dénommé said she gave a pair of shoes to a woman who was walking down the street barefoot with a dog while crying and saying she lost everything in the fire.

"There was information given to fire services upon arrival and while performing our duties that led us to believe that this may be a suspicious fire and with that information we certainly passed that along to our partners at Greater Sudbury Police Services for investigation," Oshell said. " The investigation will be turned over to Greater Sudbury Police Service and Ontario Fire Marshal. City of Greater Sudbury Fire Services crews remain on scene and out thoughts with those affected by this tragic loss."

Clarification, the call regarding the fire was received by Fire Services around 1:20 a.m., however due to the size of the fire and the unsafe conditions of the residence once the fire was extinguished, we could not confirm that there was a deceased person until around 6:00 a.m.

— Sudbury Police (@SudburyPolice) September 21, 2021

The estimated damage is around $750,000 including contents, Oshell said.

Officers remain at the scene and detectives will be canvassing the area for information and video surveillance footage, Sudbury police said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the fatal fire or circumstances leading up to it to contact them.

"Anyone who was seen in the area, any suspicious activity, vehicles, persons anything that will help us determine what caused this fire or how it started," said Kaitlyn Dunn of the Greater Sudbury Police Service.

Police said anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 705-675-9171 or Crime Stoppers at 705-222-8477.

Crews from @CGSFireServices currently on active fire scene, Antwerp Ave. Please avoid the area at this time. pic.twitter.com/W0XYgXmxJZ

— Jesse Oshell (@JesseOshell) September 21, 2021