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Apartment fire leaves residents from 28 units homeless — for now

One person was taken to hospital with 'serious' injuries after fire at Orillia apartment building; Firefighters encountered 'heavy smoke and intense heat'

One person has been seriously injured and a 28-unit apartment building on Coldwater Road has been closed following a fire that erupted at around 6 p.m. Sunday evening.

Black smoke could be seen billowing out of a fourth-floor apartment unit of the building at 21 Coldwater Rd., between West Street and Albert Street.

"When firefighters arrived, they encountered heavy smoke and intense heat," said Chris Ferry, the Orillia Fire Department's deputy fire chief. "The apartment unit was fully involved."

The occupant of that unit, a 67-year-old woman, was "seriously burned" and taken to Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, Ferry said.

There were no other injuries.

While the fire was contained to the one fourth-floor unit, there is smoke and water damage to other apartments. As a result, tenants from all 28 units were evacuated and will not be allowed back into the building tonight.

That means the tenants will need to find another place to sleep this evening. Ferry said North Simcoe Victim Services have been called to assist the displaced tenants.

He said it's too early to determine the cause of the fire, nor estimate the damages to the building.

"It could have been a lot worse had the fire not been contained to one unit," said Ferry.

Ferry said the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) has been called and will be on the scene Monday morning. He said the OFM was activated because the fire resulted in a serious injury.

The Orillia OPP crime unit is also investigating the incident,  according to a media release issued by the local detachment. 

In addition to all of the Orillia Fire Department's vehicles, four ambulances were also at the scene Sunday evening in addition to numerous local OPP units.

Ferry said Orillia OPP officers will "hold the scene" overnight and ensure nobody enters the building.

As of 7:45 p.m. firefighters were still on the scene doing ventilation and retrieving necessary personal effects, such as medications, and pets from the units on behalf of the tenants who are not allowed back in the building. 

Coldwater Road remains closed between West Street and Albert Street.