A Durham Regional Police spokesperson says the Oshawa house fire that took the lives of four people, including two children, could potentially have been an arson.
On Wednesday, Const. George Tudos revealed the reason why the fatal fire moved from the hands of the Ontario Fire Marshal to the police force, although fire officials are still assisting with the investigation.
Emergency crews were called to Olive Avenue, near Ritson Road South and Highway 401, at around 12:55 a.m. Monday for a fire that ripped through seven units in a rowhouse complex.
Four people were found dead inside a home: two adults and two children who are siblings, Tudos said. The adults were pulled from the home Monday evening and the children were discovered on Tuesday evening, he added. There is no relation between the deceased adults and the deceased children.
Mike Thompson, who survived the blaze, told Global News the children who perished in the blaze were nine-year-old Lucas Sterling and his brother, 11-year-old Cristian Sterling, who were on the second floor.
Thompson identified one of the other victims as Terry Pottie, who was on the third floor.
On Monday, Gerry Leblanc told Global News his brother Paul Leblanc was also a resident of the third floor.
Meanwhile, Tudos said the investigation is ongoing.
“We did receive information from evidence found at the scene that this could potentially be an arson investigation,” he said.
“This is why our major crimes unit have cordoned off the scene, secured it, and are waiting for judicial authorization to re-enter that home and look for evidence to support this police investigation.”
Tudos said police are not able to disclose what exactly was found as the evidence at this time. He said the investigation will determine if the fire was criminal or not.
Heavy equipment will be brought in to go through the home with the assistance of Oshawa Fire, Tudos said.
No one else is considered missing, Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said.
Five other people were able to escape the home and were all taken to hospital. Four were released but one who was taken with critical injuries remains in hospital, Tudos said.
There is no word on what may have caused the blaze.
Draven Sterling, who identified himself as the nephew of the father of the children who are believed to have perished in the fire, set up a GoFundMe. As of noon Wednesday, more than $7,500 have been raised.
— With files from Ryan Rocca and Catherine McDonald