'Less fires, more destructive'

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Donations have been pouring in for the Kennedy family after their Tillsonburg home was ravaged by fire Friday afternoon.

A fundraiser was set up at for cash donations. As of Tuesday morning, $3,260 had been raised through the online site. Donations of goods – clothes, food, furniture and more – have been organized through Facebook.

Although the family of five, Robin, Teresa and three children (ages 9, 5 and 3), lost their belongings, there were no injuries.

"No one was hurt," said Tillsonburg Fire and Rescue Services fire chief Jeff Smith.

Cause of the fire, said Smith, was undetermined. They do know the fire originated in the garage, raced up the side of the house and into the attic.

"But certainly not suspicious," he said.

When the firefighters were contacted, one individual was unaccounted for, so initially firefighters concentrated on holding the fire from spreading and getting crew inside.

"We had a few firefighters in some high heat conditions," said Smith.

Additional firefighters were called from South-West Oxford Fire & Emergency Services, and both Brownsville and Mount Elgin stations assisted.

"One problem we encountered with this call – maybe more so than other fires – and I don't know if it's because of the column of black smoke you could see from blocks and blocks away, we actually had a lot of problems with curious people driving down the street," said Smith. "We actually had one gentleman the OPP had to deal with... he was blocking the road and we couldn't get the second fire truck actually into the scene."


Over the last nine years, Smith says there has been a slight decrease in the number of local fires per year. During that same period, however, damage has increased.

"It's slowly creeping down, but the dollar loss is creeping up. The fewer fires we're having, they're more destructive."

He cited a YouTube video by NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) that compares 'legacy burn' vs modern furnishings.

"Synthetics, particle board instead of plywood... all those factors, the fires we're going to are hotter, they're spreading faster, and they are more intense. Luckily we're seeing fewer of them, but the ones we're going to are certainly more destructive."



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