Hamilton Fire lays charges against tenants in connection with fatal late 2022 blaze

Click to play video: 'No working smoke alarms in Hamilton, Ont. fire that killed 4'
No working smoke alarms in Hamilton, Ont. fire that killed 4
WATCH: The Ontario fire marshal said that there were no working smoke alarms at the Hamilton home where four people died and two others were hospitalized. Ahmar Khan reports – Jan 3, 2023

Two tenants who survived a fatal fire at a Hamilton, Ont., townhome last December are each facing charges for disabling a smoke alarm, according to the city’s fire chief.

Hamilton Fire’s Dave Cunliffe says the service filed the charges as per provincial regulations for the Dec. 29, 2022, blaze that saw two adults and two children lose their lives at a home on Derby Avenue.

Cunliffe says the charges are based on results from the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) probe that confirmed the fire started in a couch on the main floor and that smoke alarms on all floors at the home were not working.

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The tenants, who were not identified, could be fined up to $50,000 or face up to a year in prison for disabling a smoke alarm and failing to notify a landlord that the alarms in the unit were not operating.

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Six people were inside the home when the blaze broke out. All had to be rushed to hospital.

In a news conference on Jan. 3,  fire marshal Jon Pegg said the “area of origin” was an upholstered sofa in the living room.

Occupants residing on the second floor during the fire were unable to escape through a stairwell.

Pegg believed working alarms could have given the victims “a very good chance” to escape.

He went on to say “the most important part” of escaping a fire is a working smoke alarm and escape plan.

“So if the stairwell was blocked, part two kicks in and you have that second means of egress,” said Pegg.

Under the Ontario Fire Code, owners of structures are responsible for fire safety systems, including working smoke alarms.

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