Former Island resident describes Chelmsford arson at neighbour’s

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CHELMSFORD – A former Gore Bay woman posted videos and photos of the fire that police have determined was caused by arson that took place at her next door neighbour’s apartment building recently. Two teenagers had tossed a jar filled with gasoline onto the porch of a Chelmsford home on the evening of September 21, sparking a fire that left eight people without homes. 

“It was quite an ordeal; it was scary for all of us. The fire was so close to natural gas, my natural gas tank is right across from the apartment building on the driveway,” stated Terri-Lynn Cunning of the incident. “No, my house wasn’t really hit with the fire, there was a little damage done to the siding but that is all.”

Ms. Cunning explained that she had been home on the evening of September 21, when her daughter, Kandice Cyr, and her boyfriend had stopped by with her grandchild to babysit. It was 10:30 pm when they arrived, and “my daughter Kandice, as they were leaving the house, saw the flickering of a fire and saw two kids riding away. They had thrown a mason jar filled with gas at the (next door building). The teens, both boys, were between 15-17 and it seems this was all about a rivalry they had with my neighbour’s son at school.”

“When Kandice and her boyfriend left they saw the fire and she yelled at me to call 9-1-1,” said Terri-Lynn. “I called 9-1-1, ran downstairs and found a lot of people outside, including the owner of the unit. The couple next door had their two-year-old grandson with them as well.”

Kandice Cyr wrote on her Facebook page on September 22, “last night was an awful night for my neighbours. Two young kids, looking to be about 15-17 years old lit a jar on fire with accelerant in it (gas) and threw it in my neighbour’s front porch. Two young teens were spotted biking away erratically. People could have been killed, there was a baby in that house! Everyone in that building has been evacuated. Any donations to the one family who unfortunately lost everyone within a matter of minutes whether than be clothes, food, furniture etc. can be delivered to Terry Lynn Cunning at 145 Charette Ave. in Chelmsford and is so much appreciated.”

Terri-Lynn explained the apartment people next door to her includes four units, and eight people were displaced due to the fire. “Other people were allowed to go back in to their units later.” However, “the one family didn’t have contents insurance and they lost everything. We’ve collected some stuff for them through donations and the Red Cross put them up in accommodations for 72 hours, but they are displaced. This couple (who are in their 40s) are not well to do (financially) and they kept to themselves. They are nice people.”

“Their grandchild is two and their son is in high school,” said Terri-Lynn. “They aren’t living in their home, in fact I don’t know where they are staying right now. It is so sad.”

The fire was ruled as arson by the police and fire fighting authorities. The fire was contained to the one unit and other units suffered mostly smoke damage. Damage was pegged at $150,000 and eight tenants were displaced.