Man faces arson charge in fire at Wiky six-plex

The Ontario Fire Marshal investigates the six-plex fire Saturday morning, deeming it an act of arson. photo by Alicia McCutcheon

Nine people homeless, donations sought

WIIKWEMKOONG—Nine Wiikwemkoong residents are without a home this week following an  assault that led to a six-unit apartment building being all but destroyed by fire Thursday evening, April 13.

Wikwemikong Tribal Police report that at approximately 6:50 pm, officers responded to a report of a residential fire on Henry Street, located near the water tower.

Upon arrival, officers observed smoke coming from the apartment complex and were approached by witnesses who stated that an assault had occurred at the apartment complex and that the suspect who was responsible for starting the fire had fled the scene.

The Wikwemikong Fire Department, assisted by the Assiginack Fire Department, was able to extinguish the fire, but extensive damage was done to the apartment complex.

The police, in a press release, note that investigation revealed that an altercation had occurred between two people, one of whom was a resident of the apartment building. The resident was assaulted with a weapon but managed to flee the scene to a nearby residence to seek help. Upon returning to the apartment, a fire had been started in the apartment. Witnesses were unable to put out the fire and soon the entire apartment building was engulfed in flames.

As a result of the investigation, a 28-year-old male of Wiikwemkoong, Darren Cooper, has been charged with assault with a weapon, arson, weapons dangerous, uttering threats and mischief. Mr. Cooper was not a resident of the apartment complex.

Canadian Red Cross and Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services were on the scene assisting with the residents who have been left without a permanent home. According to Wikwemikong Rental Property Management, all of the families have found temporary housing thanks to family and friends. Rental Property Management also gave a chi-miigwetch to “the population, who have voluntarily opened their hearts, homes and wallets to provide for the nine individuals who were affected by the tragic circumstances. Our office sends our community and beyond our most heartfelt gratitude for helping make a tough situation tolerable.”

Donations of household items such as plates, cups, cutlery, pot and pans, small appliances, non-perishable food, household goods like lamps, televisions, area rugs, hangers and more, as well as any monetary donations, are being accepted. Please contact Wikwemikong Rental Property Management to find out how to donate by calling 705-859-3613 or by emailing propertymanagement@wiky.net.

The incident is still under investigation by the Wikwemikong Tribal Police with the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police, Identification Unit, and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

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