Two adults and two children are dead following a house fire in Oshawa, Ont. early Monday morning.
Fire officials said crews responded to the scene around 8:10 a.m. at Colborne Street West and Centre Street North.
Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said firefighters began their initial attack of the fire from the outside due to the heavy smoke and flames.
“They knocked the fire down from the outside, knowing that there were reports of people trapped and made entry and made their way up to the level of the house,” Clark said during a press conference at Durham Regional Police 17 Division Monday morning.
“At one point, we did have to evacuate the building. We had severe fire conditions that worsened, made a defensive attack and regrouped, went back in for search and rescue.”
Clark said one adult and two children were pronounced dead at the scene. Another adult was rushed to hospital but later succumbed to their injuries.
A GoFundMe page identified a man who died inside the residence as Steven Macdonald. In a separate GoFundMe page, mother Lindsey Bonchek along with her children Madeline and Jackson were also identified as victims.
Officials said three people were also transported to hospital for treatment. Their conditions are unknown. The remaining tenants were taken to other locations.
The age and identities of the deceased have not been released.
Fire officials said approximately 11 people lived in the household which was separated into multiple housing units.
Laura Green, who could see the burned home from her backyard, said she was outside smoking with her husband when the fire broke out.
“We heard a big bang and … saw a flash and people coming out of the house screaming ‘fire’ in a total panic,” Green said. “We saw the whole thing go up in flames. It was horrific.”
Green said she is on friendly terms with a couple – a boyfriend and girlfriend – who live in the back of the burned home. She was not sure if either was harmed in the blaze.
“I know that (the boyfriend) ran in when one of his friends was screaming, ‘my child,”‘ Green. “I don’t know if he came back out.”
Police have not released the cause of the fire but said the rear of the building suffered the most extensive damage.
Fire officials did not say whether there were working smoke alarms in the household.
“It’s early in the investigation. I don’t have the initial report from staff on that. But that is something that we’ll be looking into down the road,” Clark said.
The chief also addressed reports of explosions being heard from the south side of the residence during to the fire.
“We heard that there was initial reports on scene. As I indicated earlier, our fire crews on scene encountered heavy fire and heavy smoke conditions,” Clark said.
“Possibly it could have been just the fire load and the contents of the building that were being involved in the fire. But that will be part of our investigation.”
The Office of the Fire Marshal has been notified for the investigation.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry, who was alongside the chief during the press conference, expressed his condolences to the families involved in the fire.
“I’d like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the families involved,” Henry said. “It’s always nasty when there’s a fire and it’s always upsetting when there’s a loss of life. For the families, we pass on our deepest sympathies to you.”
—With files from The Canadian Press and Catherine McDonald
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