At least two members of a family are confirmed dead following a house fire in the Oneida Nation of the Thames reservation, officials confirm, with another three presumed dead.
The fire on the settlement broke out Wednesday, creating a blaze too dangerous for fire fighters to enter to save anyone.
A father and four children from the Doxtator Antone family were unaccounted for. On Thursday, police only said that the bodies of an adult and a child had been recovered.
Chief Randall Phillips said at a Thursday news conference that flames engulfed the residence around 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
“It’s a very difficult time for all of us, the community is not the same, our staff is not the same, it’s affecting us every moment,” said Phillips.
A statement from the Oneida band council said that the remaining families “were not able to be located, and are presumed to have perished in the fire.”
Phillips said that the house, an old wood-framed building, “was basically kindling,” noting that Oneida has been denied housing funding by the federal government.
“You hear about it up north, but it’s not just an up north issue,” said Phillips. “We have overcrowding here, we have a lack of housing here, we have a lack of those kinds of supports, we’re a big community, we’re one of the largest communities in Ontario, and yet our funding is based on a formula that is 200 years old and doesn’t take into account our population.”
Officials described the community of 1,300 as “tight-knit,” noting that donations of money and clothing are being accepted for the family at the band’s office.
London Friendship Centre Collecting Donations
London’s N’Amerind Friendship Centre, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the well-being of Natives in the area, launched a drive to collect clothing and supplies for the Doxtator Antone family.
“They lost everything in a house fire, including family members,” a statement from the organization read. “We are currently looking for donations of clothing, boots, (and) coats.”
According to N’Amerind the family in particular needs clothing in the following sizes: 6T, 8-10, woman’s small and medium, as well as woman’s size 16 or large–for three boys, aged 6, 8, and 9, as well as a 12-year old girl and a mother.
Boots in sizes 1, 3, 4, and women’s 9 are also requested.
Donations can be dropped off at the Oneida administration building, to the Oneida EMS, or at the N’Amerind Friendship Centre’s Richmond St. office. They will also arrange for pick-up, if requested.
Would-be donors can contact the centre at 519-672-0131, ext. 252, or by email at email@example.com.