SIX NATIONS – Seneca Road is known as a problematic area for arson, and on Wednesday, November 18 another report of a house fire reached the Six Nations Fire Department and Police in the early morning.
Rather than what could be a considered a usual fire situation, this fire has brought forth many questions. Six Nations Fire Chief Matthew Miller told the Hamilton Spectator that a man in his 30s re-entered the already blazing house, but didn’t return. As well, a car on the outside of the house was lit ablaze, and the witness that reported seeing a man re-enter the house has not been located either.
After a partial roof collapse, fire crews were unable to locate the man who reportedly re-entered the burning structure. Miller told the Spectator that he “won’t rule out the possibility that the man’s body is trapped in the rubble of the collapsed roof,” but police are trying to locate him outside of the home.
In an interview with the Two Row Times, Miller explained that the man still hasn’t been found.
“Because of the fire, we were initially told by one of the residents that someone had re-entered the building, but did not exit. So, we did a primary search, but due to a partial roof collapse that occurred, we weren’t able to search that area of the home and it would take a lot more work to sift through all of the collapsed area. So, in the meantime, one person was located by Six Nations Police, but there was a third person we were told stayed at the residence on a regular basis and they had not been accounted for. That’s why we did the slow methodical search of all of the partially collapsed debris area, and in the end, we didn’t find anybody,” he said.
When asked about the car fire on the scene, Miller explained that the cause is undetermined.
“It’s difficult to say whether or not the car was set on fire, or caught on fire because the house caught fire, because it was very close to the structure,” he explained.
In regards to the witness that reported the man re-entering the structure, Miller explained that the witness has also been difficult to find.
“We have been trying to contact the homeowner and the person that was outside of the structure at the time of the fire, and we haven’t been able to get a hold of them to interview them further,” he said.
As well, Miller said that the structural fire was found to be arson, making this the fifth deliberate structural fire located on Seneca Road in the past year.
“We were able to determine through the initial portions of the investigation that the fire is suspected arson; and has shown that the fire was deliberately set, but the investigation is still on going,” he said, adding that this information is the only information available at the current time.
The fire team responded quickly and sufficiently to the call last Wednesday, but the Six Nations Fire Department is woefully under resourced. A community roughly the same size of Six Nations requires around 100 firefighters, whereas Six Nations has only 40 active firefighters.
“We’re trying to get the information out to the community as much as possible, as to the fact that we need more people to volunteer, more people to come forward to take on firefighter positions,” he said.
“It’s a challenging process and it’s not an easy thing to do, but by at least stopping in at the station and asking some questions, we’ll be able to put any fears aside that people may have and inform them more about the responsibilities that are required of a firefighter within Six Nations,” he said.