The Hamilton Spectator
Cause of fatal trailer blaze still unknown
A double fatal fire occurred on the same Mississauga Road property in January 2012
A fire that killed a child on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation earlier this week is the second fatal blaze to have occurred on the property, The Spectator has confirmed.
In an email, Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) spokesperson Sean Driscoll said the province previously investigated a double fatal fire at the same Mississauga Road address in 2012 that later saw a man convicted of first-degree murder.
This week’s fire saw a 10-year-old child die and six other people escape with minor injuries after the trailer they’d been living in on Mississauga Road, close to neighbouring Six Nations, caught fire in the early-morning hours Monday.
As of Wednesday evening, neither the cause of the fire nor any evidence of smoke alarms in the trailer “can be determined at this time,” said Driscoll.
Emergency responders, including members of the Haldimand County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Haldimand County Fire Department as well as the Six Nations Fire Department and paramedics were called to a fire on the reserve just after 1:50 a.m.
Police said that when firefighters arrived at the scene, they found a camping trailer fully engulfed in flames. After the blaze was extinguished, a child was located inside and pronounced dead at the scene.
A statement later released by the chief and council of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation said the community was “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of a 10-year-old child in the fire.
No further details on the victim have been released as of Thursday afternoon, however efforts are underway by the community to support those involved in the blaze.
In a joint statement sent to The Spectator on Thursday, Chief Stacey Laforme and acting chief operating officer Kerri King said the entire community is “feeling the pain of this tragedy.”
The family involved in the fire is identified as the Howick-White family in the statement, although no further details were provided about the victim.
As part of the community response to the tragedy, the First Nation lit a sacred fire “to provide a safe space for our members to come together to heal and to show our love and support to the family.”
The community has also organized a donation drive to raise money for the family, with a separate collection for clothing and household item donations expected to start “when the family is ready.”
King and Laforme thanked those who have reached out to support the community, as well as staff from the Six Nations of the Grand River tragic events response team and Victim Services of Haldimand-Norfolk-Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
The latest fire is one of a string of fatal fires that have occurred on Indigenous reserves in Ontario since the beginning of the year.
In late February, two adults and a child died in a house fire in Pikangikum First Nation, a remote northwestern Ontario First Nation about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont. A house fire in January killed a 10-year-old girl on Weenusk First Nation, in northern Ontario.
The previous fire on the Mississauga Road property back in January 2012 was deemed suspicious after the bodies of two people were located inside the home that once stood on the property, as reported by The Spectator.
A Google Maps view from September 2012 showed a small house with visible fire damage and boarded up windows.
An Ohsweken man was charged and convicted of first-degree murder in connection to their deaths, according to reports from local newspaper Two Row Times.
A more recent Google Maps view from September 2022 showed at least one camping-style trailer parked on the property, while the spot where the home once stood was bare. A minivan was parked in the driveway.
Those looking to support the family can do so by email or in-person at the administration building located at 2789 Mississauga Rd. For more information, visit mncfn.ca.