Oshawa Fire Services say two people are dead and two others remain unaccounted for after a fire broke out at a home early Monday.
Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark confirmed the deaths in an update Monday evening.
Clark said the identity of the deceased have not yet been determined and added that structural damage is making it difficult to search the home.
“We requested assistance from Toronto fire to send a specialist team down here to assist us and the Ontario Fire Marshal and Durham Regional Police with our investigation,” Clark said.
“Body removal is taking place in the next little while. We’ll be wrapping things up for tonight and returning tomorrow.”
Emergency crews were called to Olive Avenue, near Ritson Road South and Highway 401, at around 12:55 a.m. for a fire that affected seven units in a rowhouse complex.
“This is… this is very difficult,” Clark told reporters in an update late Monday morning, pausing to collect his thoughts.
“It’s not looking like it’s going to have a positive end,” he said.
Clark said that the structure is “extremely unstable,” and added that the damage is “very extensive.”
“Upon arrival, there was heavy flames, visible on the street side,” he said. “Heavy heat conditions, we had some structural collapse on the upper floors as well so it’s impossible for our crews to make entry under those conditions.”
Clark said older structures such as rowhouses are problematic for firefighters as the fire can spread across to other units very quickly, through the attics.
“Unfortunately, that’s the way the construction was a long time ago. The building code has made massive improvements over the years. Newer structures are built to better standards and better systems,” he said.
Eight people have been taken to a nearby hotel for temporary shelter, Oshawa Fire said.
The cause and origin are still under investigation. The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) was called in and Durham Regional Police were on scene assisting.
Jim Lawson, operations manager with the OFM, said parts of the homes have collapsed and the investigation will take some time to get into the building to determine what exactly happened.
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Lawson said at 11:30 a.m., Oshawa firefighters were still battling hotspots from the fire.
“I don’t know how many times fire chiefs have to stand here and say this over and over and over again, make sure you have working smoke alarms,” Clark said.
“We really need to do something about this especially in the province of Ontario.”
— With files from Ryan Rocca