5 charged in Oshawa house fire that killed 4 in January

5 charged in Oshawa house fire that killed 4 in January
CBC News

Fire code violation charges have been laid against five people in connection with an Oshawa house fire in January that killed four people.

The owner of the house, two directors of a corporation and two tenants were charged with provincial offences under the Ontario Fire Code and Fire Protection and Prevention Act, according to Todd Wood, deputy fire chief for Oshawa Fire Services. 
 
Wood said Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal was not able to determine the cause of the fire in the house at 116 Centre Street North, near Colborne Street West, on Jan. 8, 2018. The house is a two-unit dwelling.
 
In a news release on Monday, ​Oshawa Fire Services did not name the charges or the five people charged.
 
The fire department, however, did say the two tenants who have been charged lived in the lower levels of the property at the time of the fire.
 
Wood said the fire, which killed two adults and two children, is a good reminder that working smoke alarms can save lives. 
 
The house had no working smoke alarms.
 
"Well, I know that morning our response was quick. It is just around the corner from our headquarters hall. And in this case, working smoke alarms would have alerted the people of the house that something was going on and they would have been able to get out safely," he said.
 
"And our crews just would have went in and knocked down the fire. What we learned from this fire, and pretty much every fire, is that fire grows quickly and you don't have a lot of time to get out. It's imperative that you have working smoke alarms in your home."
 
The fire began on the main floor, according to a final report and a forensic fire engineering report from the Office of the Fire Marshal. The two reports have been given to Oshawa Fire Services.
 
"Because of the contents and the way fire has changed, with things burning quicker and hotter, working smoke alarms are really your only chance of getting out safely," Wood said. "If the fire is too large and it grows rapidly, working smoke alarms will give you the time to get out of the home quickly."
 
According to the news release, the Office of the Fire Marshal found there were contraventions of the Ontario Fire Code in the home, but investigators did not say how the regulation was violated.
 
Crews encountered heavy fire, thick smoke
 
Fire crews were called to the scene shortly after 8 a.m. after receiving reports that people were trapped in the home near Bond and Simcoe Streets. Durham police and Oshawa firefighters arrived within minutes.
 
Firefighters encountered heavy fire and thick smoke. The house was extensively damaged.
 
Lindsey Bonchek, 36, and her daughter Madeline, 9, died in the fire that gutted the home. Bonchek's son, Jackson, 4, was pulled from the fire but later died.
 
Steve Macdonald, 50, managed to escape the fire with his pregnant daughter, but ran back into the building to rescue others, according to his family, and did not come out.
 
The Office of the Fire Marshal ruled out natural gas heating as the cause of the fire, the news release said.
 
Everyone needs an escape plan
 
Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said in the release that landlords and homeowners are required by law to have working smoke alarms on every floor of a home. 
 
Also, any residential property with a fuel-fired appliance or attached garage must have a carbon monoxide alarm, he said. Such alarms must be installed near all sleeping areas in homes and in service rooms and in sleeping areas of multi-residential units.
 
"For as little as $20, the cost of a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm is one of the best investments you can make to keep your family safe," Clark said.
 
Clark said it's also important that everyone in a home has an escape plan and knows exactly what to do in the event of a fire.
 
Tenants are required to report to their landlords if smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are not in place, he said. 
 
The fine for non-working smoke alarms is up to $50,000 for an individual and/or one-year imprisonment.