1. #1
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    Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    Mar 2000
    Niagara Falls, NY, USA

    Default Pregnant mom, 7 children die in Ontario house fire

    A shocked community grieves over tragedy


    Derek Gee/Buffalo News
    Firefighters on Tuesday look for answers as they huddle outside the rubble of the West Lincoln, Ont., farmhouse that was destroyed in a fatal fire.

    Associated Press
    Monika Woerlen and her seven children pose for a family photo. The mother, who was pregnant, and her seven children perished in what was called Ontario's worst fire in more than a decade. Six bodies have been recovered, with two still missing.

    WEST LINCOLN, Ont. - The deaths of a pregnant woman and her seven children in a house fire left this small farming community 30 miles west of Niagara Falls in a state of disbelief Tuesday as investigators searched for a cause.
    Fire officials called it the worst blaze in Ontario in more than a decade.

    "This is beyond imagination," said Ardeth Staz, superintendent of the school district where four of the children were educated.

    The century-old farmhouse that burned to the ground late Monday had been listed for sale for several months, police said.

    Six bodies had been recovered by late Tuesday and two were still unaccounted for but believed to be in the blackened ruins of the house, Pelham Fire Chief Scott McLeod said.

    Killed in the blaze were Monika Woerlen, 39; and her children, Susanna, 11; Elena, 10; Marcus, 8; Samuel, 7; Paul, 5; Nathan, 3; and Debora, 19 months.

    The father, Marc, 41, was in Ottawa, making plans for the family to move there, said Constable George Bench of Niagara Regional Police Service. The couple has family there, Bench said.

    Marc Woerlen and family members from Ottawa were driving back to the Niagara Falls area Tuesday.

    Fire consumed the house before anyone could escape, Bench said.

    McLeod said any attempt to flee the burning house could not be determined from the location of the bodies.

    "We just don't know what happened in the house," he said.

    The first firefighters on the scene - noting the "for sale" sign out front and the eerie silence inside - said they thought the old farmhouse was abandoned.

    The fire call came in at 11:20 p.m. Monday. The first units arrived 10 minutes later. More than 40 volunteer firefighters from the Pelham and West Lincoln departments battled the blaze at 3903 Concession Road Four, about three miles from the West Lincoln intersection of Highway 20 and Victoria Avenue.

    Firefighters said the fire burned out of control for an hour until the two-story wood house collapsed into a smoldering heap of debris.

    The bodies were taken to Hamilton General Hospital for post-mortem examinations. An investigation into the cause of the fire by the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office will take two or three days to complete, McLeod said.

    Firefighters said it is unlikely the oil-heated farmhouse was equipped with any kind of fire alarm or smoke detectors.

    Foul play is not suspected, McLeod said.

    Neighbors along the country road spoke well of the Woerlen family.

    "They were the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet," said John Ross, who also lives on Concession Road Four. "They were a very close family."

    A few miles west of the house, on Highway 20 at Gainsborough Elementary School, shock and disbelief gripped classmates of four of the fire victims. Some of their fathers were among the firefighters who battled the blaze. "This is a horrific event in our small community," said Susan MacNeil, the principal. "They were wonderful children, and the students and staff here are devastated."

    Grief counselors spent most of Tuesday talking to many of the 280 pupils, she said. All outside activities have been placed on hold for the next few days, but classes will continue.

    "This will be a challenging time for the people at Gainsborough," MacNeil said, "but this is a very strong community, and we'll get through it together."

    e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com


    My thoughts and prayers go out to the father and the Firefighters that were there. This must be a very tough time for them.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    retired to the US Capitol Aug 26, 1814


    8 bodies for lack of an $8 smoke alarm.

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    Nov 2001


    Another article I read had the Grandfather saying there were smoke alarms all over the home..........although no mention of whether they were operable or not. There is no excuse for something like this happening. And without an escape plan, no one could ever hope to get so many children from a home during a crisis. In Ontario, smoke alarms are law. I know public education campaigns by the Office of the Fire Marshal as well as area Fire Departments are ongoing all the time. Another example of the "can't happen to me" mentality. Due to the extensive damage we will probably never know a cause.

    My thoughts are with the firefighters in these communities, some of whom I know personally. A tragic loss........a senseless loss

  4. #4
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    May 2002
    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!

    Unhappy Sleep with angels, sweet children :(

    City mourns Ont. mom, 7 kids who died in fire
    CTV.ca News Staff

    A church in St. Catharines was filled with the happy voices of seven Ontario children who perished in a house fire earlier this week, as the tribute video made by one of their uncles was played at their funeral service Saturday.

    Laughing and smiling, the children chat happily in front of the camera, then several of them take turns waving goodbye.

    "The video absolutely just tears you up. They were such happy, happy children; they all achieved scholastically, in sports," Monika's sister Julia Jansen told the Globe and Mail. "They were big, solid kids, farm kids."

    Jansen said she and her sister were like twins, their birthdays separated only by 13 months. When Jansen had twin girls, she named them Monique and Juliette, the French translation of their two names.

    A row of white caskets lined the front of the church during the service. Floral arrangements were arranged on top, brightening the sad, long row of coffins.

    The family's seven children ranged in age from 19 months to 11 years. They are: Susanna, 11; Elena, 10; Marcus, 8; Samuel, 7; Paul, 5; Nathan, 3; and Debora Lynn, 19 months.

    In a final act of fatherly affection, the smallest coffin belonging to little Debora Lynn was carried in by Marc Woerlen, the toddler's grief-stricken father.

    About one thousand people filled the pews for the service to remember Monika Woerlen and her seven children. They died in a house fire on Monday.

    Woerlen, 39, was also pregnant with her eighth child. Monika's husband Marc Woerlen was in Ottawa at the time of the fire. He's expected to do a reading and play a hymn on his trumpet.

    Touching Tributes

    Monika's 10 brothers sang a hymn at Saturday's funeral. Susan McNeil, principal of the children's school in Bismarck, Ontario, said "the Woerlen children played energetically, and in harmony with all those around them."

    They "demonstrated an awareness of others' needs, well beyond their years." Sammy was known for taking the time to play with special needs students. Classmates were eager to call Samantha their friend. Marcus was the athlete, always ready to congratulate fellow competitors on a strong performance.

    Monika's father Fred van Stralen said she was the first child for himself and wife Millie. He remembered holding his tiny newborn daughter in his hand. "I could balance her on my hand, it was unbelievable."

    To his grieving son-in-law, he said, "Marc, God with strengthen you. He said this morning, 'There was a woman that melted my heart without words,' straight from his heart. I know God is going to bless you for that."

    Marc spoke at the service as well, choking up as he called his wife "a living sacrifice." He lost his composure for a moment as he thanked his wife for the seven children she provided him.

    On the funeral program, an excerpt from the Wisdom of Solomon is printed on the back. In reads: "Being perfected in a short time, they fulfilled long years; for their souls were pleasing to the Lord, therefore He took them quickly from the midst of wickedness."

    Following the service, the eight coffins were taken to a nearby cemetary for burial.

    Autopsies show the eight died of smoke inhalation. Investigators haven't released the cause of the fire, but say it seems the blaze started in the living room.

    The family lived in a 100-year-old house. It's not known if it was equipped with smoke detectors.

    Investigators wrapped up their search of the charred rubble on Friday. They likely won't announce the cause of the fire for another two weeks.

    Foul play is not suspected, but a fireplace in the living room is being looked at as a possible source, as is a wood stove in the basement.

    Marc Woerlen has been staying at his father's home, down the road from the site of his former house.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Honorary Flatlander


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    RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!


    Grief, tears as mother, seven children killed in house fire are mourned

    Colin Perkel
    Canadian Press

    November 13, 2004

    ST. CATHARINES, Ont. (CP) - Monika Woerlen was a "living sacrifice" who devoted her life to family, her grieving husband told the almost 1,000 mourners who gathered at a funeral service Saturday to honour the 39-year-old mother and her seven children who died in a house fire last week.

    Fighting back tears, Marc Woerlen described how his wife braved severe back pain from a sports injury suffered in her youth to give birth to their children.

    "She willingly gave herself to pain to bring forth seven wonderful children," he said, his voice cracking. "She was a living sacrifice.

    "Thank you, Monika, for your example to me and to the rest of the world," he added. "Our wonderful seven children were always a gift from heaven. The joy we shared from the breakfast table to the goodnight hugs and kisses will spur me on in faithfulness until eternity."

    Hundreds of mourners filled a church in St. Catherines for the funeral service, remembering the woman and children whose lives ended when fire tore through their century-old rural southwestern Ontario home last Monday.

    As the service began, hushed congregants watched a seven-minute memorial video of the victims, their smiling, sometimes impish faces appearing over the row of eight white coffins offset by bouquets of flowers that stretched the length of the podium.

    Monika Woerlen and her children, ranging from 19 months to 11 years old, were asphyxiated in the blaze that left firefighters, who had rushed to the scene in vain, sobbing.

    Her husband was in Ottawa on business at the time.

    Speaking at the funeral, Marc Woerlen praised the police, firefighters and the coroner for their "tremendous service."

    "We cannot comprehend what has happened," Max Woerlen, Monika's father-in-law, said as he thanked those who had shown so much support to the grieving family.

    "These virtuous rivers of compassion and care must now continue."

    Monika Woerlen's father, Fred Van Stralen, also spoke of the incredible response to the "depth of the tragedy, which is unspeakable."

    Condolences, he said, had poured in from the community and around the world, calling it overwhelming.

    "Her memory is precious," he said of his daughter.

    In the first five rows, about 80 immediate family members, some from as far as Oslo, Norway, watched and listened as the video played scenes of a joyful family doing ordinary things: swimming, making crafts, laughing, rocking a baby, acting goofy.

    It ended with the words, "Until God calls me home, and I can hold you again in my aching arms."

    During the service, most of Woerlen's 14 siblings sang a hymn, a gently harmonious affirmation of faith - "Nearer, my God, to thee."

    Pastor Jether Vinson praised Woerlen as a devoted and devout wife and selfless mother who stayed home to nurture her young ones, all of whom perished in the dreadful blaze.

    When God called her children home, she was right there with them," said Vinson, adding the family was now sleeping with their Father in heaven.

    "There is not one tear that He does not share."

    Susan McNeil, principal of Gainsborough Public School in nearby Bismarck, Ont., said the Woerlen children were shining examples of sharing who always had words of encouragement for other students.

    She read brief notes of praise from classmates, one describing them as "the nicest kids in our school."

    Following the service, the coffins were to be taken to a nearby cemetary for burial.
    Last edited by RspctFrmCalgary; 11-13-2004 at 02:21 PM.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Honorary Flatlander


  6. #6
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    Thaddie's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Riverton, Nova Scotia, Canada


    Link to Video very sad..

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