Residents displaced by east Windsor apartment fire face long-term exit

Windsor Fire and Rescue Services (WFRS) officials will oversee three days of appointments for displaced residents of the Villa Polonia apartment building to return for left-behind belongings after a devastating weekend fire.

On Saturday, around 1 p.m., crews responded to the blaze at 8545 Little River Road in east Windsor to find heavy fire conditions which forced nearly 100 people out of their home.

“Residents should plan for the long-term as opposed to the short-term,” said Jeff Tebby, a Fire Investigation Services Supervisor with the Office of the Fire Marshal.

The fire ripped through the roof of the apartment building, leaving extensive damage likely costing more than the initial $1-million-dollar estimate according to Tebby.

“There will be a lot of work required to be done to this building,” said Tebby. “The roof is going to have to be replaced. Electrical has been compromised significantly. Where there’s no fire damage, there’s water damage.”

In an email to CTV News, Jason Moore, the senior manager of communications for the City of Windsor, noted city social services staff established a registration centre at the WFCU Centre on Saturday for a four-hour period to help ensure accommodations were arranged for displaced tenants.

According to Moore, only one family attended the registration centre, who was then connected with the Community Care Access Centre, and every household contacted had found a place to stay for the time being.

Returning for belongings

Beginning Monday, WFRS will arrange appointments with tenants so that those displaced can grab their belongings left behind in the escape from the fire.

Displaced tenants are being offered a series of windows over the next three days to grab essential and urgent belongings. Residents will need to provide proof of occupancy and sign a waiver on site prior to entering the building.

  • Monday, Nov. 2: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 4: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A city news release states the property management company has committed to communicate with residents directly, however, there is no timeline for displaced residents to return.

A call by CTV News to PC Management has not been returned as of publishing.

Investigation continues

On Monday, investigators with the OFM continued to probe the cause of the fire.

Tebby says debris continues to be cleared as investigators look for the fire’s source of ignition. Tebby adds an engineer was brought through the building to determine if electrical wiring may be to blame for the fire.

Investigators arrived on scene Sunday and interviewed the tenant of the apartment unit believed to house the origin of the fire.

In an interview with CTV News on Sunday, OFM investigator Clive Hubbard felt confident the extensive damage would not inhibit the investigation.

"I’ve had a preliminary look at the scene and have a fairly good idea of where I need to be,” said Hubbard.

Tebby points to the fire as a good reminder of the importance of working smoke detectors.

“The main message is always, always, always have working smoke alarms to give you that early warning so you can escape,” said Tebby. “We’re fortunate in this incident that there were no injuries.”