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Contractor recounts frantic moments during fatal London, Ont. fire

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One person is dead and a second is injured following a blaze in London’s northeast end.

Nearly 30 firefighters on eight London Fire Department (LFD) vehicles arrived at 1600 Nairn Ave. at approximately 8:30 a.m.

CTV News London has learned of the frantic moments just before their arrival.

Contractor Bennett Mikalauskis said he was working on a deck at 1602 Nairn Ave. when he suddenly noticed smoke and an elderly man struggling.

“I noticed the smoke billowing out from the eaves, and he was leaning over the back railing choking,” he recalled.

Mikalauskis immediately ran to the back door to help the man -- but he encountered a challenge.

“He told me his oxygen tank was stuck in the home,” he said. “I tried to get the oxygen tank out, but we couldn’t get it out.”

The London Fire Department is seen at 1600 Nairn Ave. in London, Ont. following a residential fire on May 14, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

As firefighters arrived, the pair had just made it to the side of the home.

There, the injured man managed to relay an alarming message.

“We had an intersection with the individual outside, which determined there was another individual inside," said LFD Platoon Chief Colin Shewell.

Despite extreme heat and heavy smoke, fire crews entered the semi-detached home.

Shewell said the deceased person was located in the second-floor living room.

“Second individual has been determined to be deceased inside the residence,” he said.

Multiple neighbours told CTV News London the victim is a senior female who had lived at the residence for some time.

The news is distressing to all of them, including Debbie Silk. Her partner has lived across the street from the fire-damaged home for decades.

By 10:45 a.m. on May 14, 2024, police had taped off the scene of a fatal fire at 1600 Nairn Ave. in London, Ont. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

She was among the first to witness the scene.

“To me, it was like flames were pouring out of the top windows and smoke,” she said.

The majority of firefighters had cleared the area by 10:30 a.m. Members of the London Police Service then began taping off the scene.

Detectives and forensic investigators will work with fire investigators to determine a cause.

Shewell said the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal has been notified.

Damage is currently estimated at $450,000. 

In an update on Thursday, London police said they continue to assist the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal in the investigation, with police remaining on scene.

One individual remains in hospital. 

1600 Nairn Ave. in London, Ont. is seen in this overhead satellite view. (Source: Google Maps)

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