One Dead In Apartment Fire

A London man is dead as a result of injuries sustained in a fire at an Oxford St. E. apartment building, which the city says was being used as an illegal group home.

Fire crews were called to 1451 Oxford St. E. just after 11am on Monday, October 3. Two patients were taken to hospital with serious injuries. One has since died and the other has been discharged from hospital. Police are not releasing the victim’s identity.

All 29 residents living in the apartment, many with disabilities, mental health issues and addictions, are displaced. They are being cared for by the Salvation Army for the time being. An organization called People Helping People has the building listed on its website. The city says the building was being used as an illegal group home and was in squalid condition.

“The units had issues with respect to the doors, the windows and the roof system. We’ve had complaints in terms of property upkeep for well over a year,” says Chief Municipal Law Enforcement Officer Orest Katoylk. “It was clear to us that these people were living as a group home, there was food being provided, there were meds being provided. That kind of tipped the scale in terms of definition and non-compliance.”

According to city bylaws, no more than eight people can live in a single group home where care is being provided. The city had given the owners until February to make the necessary changes, but since the fire no one will be able to return until the owners bring the property up to code.

A representative for People Helping People tells they are meeting with all of those affected by the fire to discuss the next steps.

The Ontario Fire Marshal and London Police’s Arson Unit are investigating. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Damage is estimated at $150,000.