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Woman, 67, succumbs to injuries after Orillia apartment fire

'It's a tragic circumstance any time someone loses their life in this type of manner,' says OPP official; cause under investigation

A woman who was "seriously burned" during a fire in her Coldwater Road apartment unit Sunday evening has died.

The 67-year-old had been rushed to Orillia's Soldiers' Memorial Hospital (OSMH) after she fled her "fully engulfed" fourth-floor apartment unit at the Coldwater Road building at approximately 5:45 p.m. on Sunday.

She was pronounced deceased at OMSH, said Orillia OPP Const. Brett Boniface.

Boniface said the woman was located in the hallway outside her apartment unit with "significant burns. Unfortunately, the 67-year-old female from the unit was pronounced deceased a short time later at the hospital."

At this point, the woman's identity is not being released.

"It's a tragic circumstance any time someone loses their life in this type of manner and that has ... effects on the whole community," said Boniface.

Chris Ferry, the Orillia Fire Department's deputy chief, agreed.

"The fire department sends their condolences to the family and friends ... it's just a tragic set of circumstances," Ferry told Village Media.

Boniface said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing with the assistance of Orillia Fire Department, the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Orillia crime unit and the OPP's forensic identification unit, all of whom are on site today.

As to reports that an oxygen tank exploded and sparked the fire, Ferry said "there was no tank explosion to my knowledge. It's under investigation, but I'm not leaning toward it being suspicious."

However, he stressed the investigation is in its early stages.

"The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has been called in to investigate the cause, origin, and circumstance of the fire that occurred on Coldwater Road in Orillia," said the OFM's public relations officer, Sean Driscoll. 

"A fire investigator has been assigned and will begin the scene examination shortly. At this time, there is no further update to provide and questions are best directed to OPP."

As the investigation continues, the tenants in the 28-unit, four-storey building at 21 Coldwater Rd. remain locked out. Ferry said that will continue today and possibly this evening.

"There is a lot of fire damage to the unit and there is smoke and water damage to the upper floors," said Ferry. It has to be determined if those units are habitable, he explained.

For now, as the investigation and cleanup continues, the tenants will not be allowed back in the building.

Volunteers from North Simcoe Victim Services were on scene Sunday night to lend a hand and help the displaced tenants find a place to sleep. Kim Kneeshaw, the organization's executive director, said she couldn't provide a lot of information due to confidentiality issues.

"I can tell you that we were able to assist a number of the people that were not able to stay with a friend or relative," Kneeshaw said.

"Staff and volunteers were on site to assist with food, water and accommodation. We also connected them with Red Cross for additional assistance. Anyone still requiring assistance is welcome to call us," she said. The organization can be reached via phone at 705-325-5578.