Elec­tri­cal mal­func­tion caused fire at group home

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA BROADLEY

A ma­jor fire that tore through a St. Thomas group home Oct. 5 caus­ing an es­ti­mated $250,000 in dam­ages all boils down to an elec­tri­cal is­sue, says the Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal.

Wiring within the walls failed ei­ther due to the age of the wiring or ro­dents and caused a fire to start, said fire in­ves­ti­ga­tor Kevin Pa­hor.

Pa­hor said in­ves­ti­ga­tors look at fire pat­terns that lead to an area of ori­gin. At that point they look at po­ten­tial ig­ni­tion sources.

“In this case the only po­ten­tial ig­ni­tion source there was the elec­tri­cal wiring,” Pa­hor said.

The Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal wrapped up the in­ves­ti­ga­tion within one day.

The Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal investigates un­der a va­ri­ety of cir­cum­stances, one of which is vul­ner­a­ble oc­cu­pancy like a group home or se­niors’ home.

The group home that caught fire was called the Gate House, which is a part of the Homes for Spe­cial Care pro­gram run by the Min­istry of Health and Long-Term Care. It pro­vides hous­ing, meals and sup­port for peo­ple with se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness. Homes range in size and can be any­where from one to 47 beds.

The St. Thomas house had 10 res­i­dents and one staff mem­ber in the house at the time of the fire. Ev­ery­one got out safely and no one was in­jured.

Af­ter the ten­ants were safely evac­u­ated from the home they were re­lo­cated to other Homes for Spe­cial Care. One ten­ant chose to stay with fam­ily but will be re­turn­ing to a li­cenced Homes for Spe­cial Care, David Jensen, spokesper­son for the min­istry, said in an email.

Jensen said the care and sup­port the ten­ants were re­ceiv­ing will con­tinue at other Homes for Spe­cial Care in the St. Thomas area.


The Gate House, a group home lo­cated on Flora Street in St. Thomas, went up in flames on the evening of Oct. 5. The Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal in­ves­ti­gated and con­cluded it was an elec­tri­cal mal­func­tion that caused the blaze.

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