February 24, 2016 2:19 pm

Toronto Community Housing to contest charge laid over fatal Scarborough blaze

Fire crews respond at Neilson Hall Apartments.

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TORONTO – The Toronto Community Housing Corporation says it plans to dispute a charge alleging a fire-code violation in an apartment blaze that killed three seniors earlier this month.

The Feb. 5 fire at 1315 Neilson Rd. killed three elderly residents and put another 12 in hospital. The next day, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop said the building’s corridors may have been partially blocked by burning polyurethane chairs, which spewed a toxic black smoke.

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READ MORE: Sprinklers would have changed outcome of fatal public housing blaze: fire marshal

On Tuesday, Global News learned that the TCHC was charged with violating section 2.4.2 of the Ontario Fire Code, which says combustible materials (other than those for which the location, room or space is designed) cannot be permitted to “accumulate in any part of an elevator shaft, ventilation shaft, means of egress, service room or service space.”

“We dispute the charge and feel that we were in compliance with all fire code regulations at the time of the fire,” interim TCHC president Greg Spearn said Wednesday. “The armchairs have been in alcoves on all floors for many years. They are adjacent to the hallway, not part of hallway exit area.”

Under the Fire Code, any corporation convicted of an offence can face a fine of up to $100,000.

Fire officials also said a lack of sprinklers contributed to the lethality of the fire, although the building did meet legal requirements. A spokesman for Ontario’s Fire Marshal said investigators were still examining whether smoke detectors were adequate.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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