| Aug 07, 2008

Feature Article - August 7, 2008

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Feature Article - August 7, 2008 Fatal fire on Kashwakamak LakeBy Jefff Green

It was the kind of call that volunteer firefighters in lake country dread. At 1:45 a.m. last Saturday, August 2, firefighters were called to a location on the Smith Road near Ardoch. After driving 7-8 kilometres down the Smith Road, crews turned onto a small private cottage road which they had to try and squeeze their trucks and equipment though.

“Cottage roads are our worst nightmare,” said a tired North Frontenac Fire Chief Steve Riddell when contacted two days later, “and with all the rain we’ve had, this one was so soft that we could only get our tanker truck to about 100 metres from the fire.”

Crews from three stations (Clar-Mill, Ompah, and Snow Road) around 20 firefighters in all, responded to the fire, but there was little they could do to save the cottage, which was fully engulfed in fire when they reached it.

“It was disheartening because we found out right away that someone had been in the cottage and had not gotten out,” said Riddell.

Two young men were sleeping on the porch of the cottage and they had tried to rescue the man inside, but to no avail.

Other visitors and family members, all of whom were visiting for a family reunion on the long weekend, were sleeping in other cabins. Everyone had gone to bed early because there had been a blackout at around 9 pm.

At first light the body was discovered, and later in the day it was sent for analysis to determine the cause of death. The name of the deceased had not been released as of Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Chief Riddell said investigators have “a pretty good idea. They are looking at a couple of things, based on eyewitness accounts. Electrical problems and carelessness are two possibilities.”

Although the wet weather made it difficult to get to the fire, it did prevent the fire from spreading.

“If the weather was dry, with that amount of underbrush and down that cottage road, it could have spread to many more cottages on the lake,” Riddell said.

“We’ve got to get talking to these cottagers to get them to understand that we need to work on these roads.”

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