Fatal Whitby blaze under investigation

Fatal Whitby blaze under investigation

Fire Marshal's office won't comment if unit had working smoke alarms

WHITBY -- The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating after an early morning blaze took the lives of three people in Whitby.

Two females and one male died in the fire, which Durham police confirmed started at 917 Dundas St. W. shortly after midnight. The Fire Marshal and Whitby Fire Department held a press conference around noon, but would not confirm the age, sex, or names of the victims, or if the house had working smoke alarms. One of the fire hydrants at the scene was not working, but did not impact the department's ability to fight the blaze, according to the media address.

"It's very much in the early stages of investigation, there's no conclusion as to any criminality that may or may not be involved with this fire," said Bryan Fischer, fire investigation supervisor, Ontario Fire Marshal's office, in response to if the fire is suspicious.
Whitby Fire Chief Michael Gerrard said the one-and-a-half storey home, split into two apartments, had a very tight space inside which "made it hard for firefighters to make their way around."

Chief Gerrard said putting out the fire was "slower than it would have been if it was a normal structure."

Although investigators have interviewed the owner of the property, the Fire Marshal is not yet prepared to comment on if the units were illegal or had fire alarms.
The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, why the people who called 911 were unable to escape at the time, and whether the smoke alarms inside the house were working.

Colleen Loughran and her husband Sean were woken up by fire trucks around 12:30 a.m. Flames were shooting up out of the house when firefighters broke its windows and doors to get to the blaze. Mr. Loughran took video of flames coming out of the attic window.
"You could smell the fire and feel the heat at times on your face," Mr. Loughran said.
At 1: 30 a.m., they saw emergency crews run with stretchers and remove two people from inside the burning house, one who was definitely a female, Ms. Loughran continued.
"I didn't know the people but I saw them quite frequently," said Ms. Loughran. "They were young, that's for sure. It's so terrible to see three young lives taken. I don't know why they didn't get out of the house."

The Whitby Fire Department is having a press conference at 2 p.m. to discuss fire safety and the importance of having an escape plan.

"It's a huge loss," said Mr. Fischer. "Any fire where there's loss of life is a huge blow to the community and to fire safety in Ontario." 


Link to article: Durhamregion.com Fatal Whitby blaze under investigation