The Office of the Fire Marshal along with Toronto Fire Services have determined the cause of a fire that took the lives of four people in January was the result of an electrical failure and no working smoke alarms.
“Our joint investigation determined that the fire was caused by an electrical failure in the dining room ceiling. Additionally, it was determined that there were no working smoke alarms at 95 Gainsborough Road,” the fire marshal’s office said in a press release issued Friday.
On Jan. 29 at about 4:30 a.m., emergency crews were called to a home on Gainsborough Road, near Coxwell Avenue and Eastwood Road, in Toronto’s east end for reports of a house fire.
Fire officials said six people were pulled from the home. Four people died and several others were injured, including some firefighters.
At the time, Acting Fire Chief Jim Jessop said at one point there was a mayday call for one of the firefighters but the firefighter was able to get out of the home on their own. Another firefighter was caught in a flash, and one fell through the floor. A third firefighter was hospitalized after suffering heat injuries, Jessop said.
Jessop said the fire had spread to a neighbouring home and then to a third home. He said all the deceased victims were from one home.
Arija Jansons survived the fire, but lost her six-year-old son, her mother, and two friends.
“This tragedy highlights the vital importance for all Ontarians to install and maintain working smoke alarms in their homes,” the fire marshal’s office said. “Too often, the Office of the Fire Marshal investigates fatal fires where there are no working smoke alarms; in more than one-third of residential fatal fires in the province, this is the case.”
On the day of the fire, Jessop said the cold, frigid temperatures made it a difficult fire to fight due to water freezing and equipment failure.
The investigation into the cause of the fire was also conducted in collaboration with Toronto police and the Office of the Chief Coroner.
Fire officials are reminding people to have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan.
“When a fire occurs, you may only have seconds to get out safely,” Fire Marshal Jon Pegg said.
“With the time change this weekend, I want to remind Ontarians to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and test them. Installing working smoke alarms and testing them monthly is the most important action an individual homeowner can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from the hazards associated with fire,” Pegg said.
The Office of the Fire Marshal said there are no working smoke alarms in more than one-third of residential fatal fires across Ontario.
According to the Office of the Fire Marshal, these three actions were recommended:
- Working smoke alarms must be installed on every storey of a home and outside all sleeping areas.
- Change the batteries at least once a year and/or if the low-battery warning sounds or if the alarm fails to sound when tested.
- Smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years.
— With files from The Canadian Press.