August 13, 2014 5:10 pm

Improperly vented clothes dryer cause of deadly East Gwillimbury fire

Firefighters attend to a fatal fire at a home in East Gwillimbury on March 29, 2013.

Jason Scott/Global News

TORONTO –  An improperly vented clothes dryer and the lack of a smoke detector on the main floor of a home were the factors that led to a fatal fire that killed a family of four in a small Ontario town north of Toronto last March.

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“We were able to identify that the spread, fire, and smoke was sufficiently quick enough that by the time the second floor smoke alarm activated, the occupants were trapped,” said Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek during a press conference Wednesday morning.

A final report from the Office of the Fire Marshal revealed that the lack of an alarm on the main floor caused the delay in the fire department response time in the early morning hours of March 29, 2013.

A timeline from the report showed the East Gwillimbury volunteer fire service took 12 minutes  to arrive on scene after the initial 9-1-1 call.

“Due to delay in detection — the fire notification, the response time was not an issue  given the untenable fire conditions,” Fire Marshal Wieclawek told reporters.

The victims of the fire were identified as Kevin Dunsmuir, 55, his wife Jennifer, 51, and their two sons Cameron, 16, and Robert, 19.

WATCH: How to protect your home and family from the dangers of fire. Peter Kim reports 

A preliminary investigation last year revealed the lack of a working smoke detector prevented the family living in East Gwillimbury from escaping alive.

Evidence gathered at the scene showed there was no smoke detector on the main floor and the one serving the second floor was wired through the main floor laundry room.

Under Ontario law, each home must have a smoke detector, however Ontario Fire Marshal Tadeusz Wieclawek said at the time the legislation doesn’t differentiate between a hard-wired or battery-operated version.

Questions were raised last year regarding the response time of the East Gwillimbury volunteer fire service and why the Newmarket fire department was not called in under a mutual agreement pact.

Newmarket had a house of professional firefighters within a 10-kilometre radius of the fire.

East Gwillimbury Fire Chief Ken Beckett had said response time could have been cut in half if the department had full-time staff.

Ontario Fire Marshal Wieclawek said on Wednesday that his office will be speaking to fire services across the province to see if improvements can be made to facilitate better cooperation among municipalities.

“Municipalities must ensure they have the necessary staffing, resources in place if they expect them to perform rescue and suppression activities in a timely manner,” said Wieclawek.

“By entering into a fire protection agreement or automatic aid agreement will allow you to coordinate resources in a more effective and efficient manner, then you should be doing that.”

Ontario Fire Marshal Wieclawek also said his office will be putting out a public service announcement regarding the dangers of improperly vented clothes dryers.

With files from The Canadian Press

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