Sunday Tragedy near Wilno


Wilno — The investigation of a fatal fire at a residence on Mountain View Road in Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (KHR) Township on Sunday afternoon that left one person dead continued yesterday by members of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, the Office of the Coroner, the Ontario Provincial Police Forensic Identification Services, and the Renfrew County Crime Unit.
The identification of the victim was pending the results of a post mortem but it is generally known the victim was Ambrose Ostroskie, the owner of the property and a long-time caretaker at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wilno.
At approximately 3:40 p.m. Sunday, the KHR Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire at 3909 Mountainview Road.
“It came through as a structure fire with injuries,” Fire Chief Bob Gareau said.
Seventeen of the township’s 21 firefighters responded from both the Killaloe and Round Lake stations with a full complement of equipment including three pumper tankers, a bush truck, a tanker, and the rescue van.
“It was fully engulfed,” he said of the conditions when firefighters arrived on scene.
Chief Gareau said that did not necessarily mean it had been burning for some time before it was noticed.
“You get these old buildings, they go up pretty quickly and the heat was intense.
“You could feel it from the road and that’s 100 yards,” he added. “One truck went up and had to turn around and come back down, it was so hot.”
He said while someone said it was a log home, he did not believe that to be accurate.
“I actually saw frame structure. Had it been a log structure, we would see log residue at the bottom.
“The flames were about two-and-a-half storeys, but I don’t know if it was a one or two-storey house.”
Chief Gareau said a passerby who called in the fire advised firefighters there was someone at the scene, but they did not know where they were.
“The body was actually outside between the house and whatever that upper out-building was. It was maybe three or four feet from the main door.”
He put out a call for Mutual Aid to Madawaska Valley Township for more personnel to assist with fighting the fire that had started to spread into the nearby bush and men and equipment were dispatched from the Combermere Station.
“This was getting pretty close to the end of our township. We didn’t need any more gear, we just needed people.
“The house was on fire and then it jumped to another building. I don’t know what it was, maybe a garage or storage shed,” he added. “It’s on a side hill and it was cleared all around the house but there’s forest all around, and it started jumping to the forest on three sides.”
While KHR personnel had the bush fire essentially out, MV firefighters helped ensure it was extinguished and thoroughly checked.
The department drew water from a nearby ditch and pumped it to a porta-tank that had been set up at the scene. He stressed water was never an issue at any time.
Due to the extent of the damage, he said it is not probable a cause of the fire will ever be determined, but it was not considered to be suspicious in nature. He said a high hoe was being brought to the scene on Tuesday to clear some of the debris to allow investigators better access.
There were two units from the County of Renfrew paramedics on scene at different times. No members of either department required medical attention.
Chief Gareau said he and three members of the department remained on scene until approximately 8:30 Sunday night when they were cleared by the Fire Marshal’s Office.
“We released most of the other guys around 6 o’clock,” he said.