Durham police say Oshawa fire that killed four was set by child

The Durham police homicide unit has concluded an investigation into a fatal townhouse fire that killed four people, including two children, on Olive Avenue earlier this year.

The fire broke out at around 1 a.m. on March 22 at 149 Olive Ave., and while five people, including a child, escaped, four others lost their lives.

They included 66-year-old Terrence Pottie, 57-year-old Paul Leblanc, 11-year-old Cristian Duguay-Sterling and his brother, nine-year-old Lucas Duguay-Sterling.

The Durham police homicide unit worked with the Ontario Fire Marshal and Oshawa Fire Services on the investigation and officers believe the fire was started by a child under the age of 12.

Given the circumstances, Canadian legislation doesn’t allow children under age 12 to be held responsible for a crime, no charges will be laid.

When called to the scene in March, firefighters encountered a raging fire that prohibited them from entering the house to carry out rescues.

After the flames were extinguished, the work to search for four missing people began. The Oshawa fire department called in the Toronto Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) unit for assistance in the search for the missing. Crews had to shore up the house to search for the victims and it took two days to remove all four.

The community and first responders were deeply impacted by the situation and condolences for the family poured in from across the city.

Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark described the search as an incredibly difficult situation.

“I want to send my condolences to all involved in this terrible tragedy; it’s affected the whole city and we’re a tight community and we all feel the pain that they’re feeling,” Clark said at the time.

The City of Oshawa lowered flags to half mast to honour those lost in the fire and community members donated to support the family through a GoFundMe fundraiser.


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