Late detection led to four deaths in East Gwillimbury fire: Fire Marshal

Late detection led to four deaths in East Gwillimbury fire: Fire Marshal - A new report says a number of factors led to a tragic fatal fire last year in East Gwillimbury. The fire killed four members of the same family and led to questions about how quickly fire crews responded.  The fire marshal also explained why response time by the East Gwillimbury Fire Department wasn't an issue.

The fire marshal says there was very little firefighters could have done to save the four members of the Dunsmuir family when fire ripped through their home in Sharon in March of last year.

Kevin and Jennifer Dunsmuir and their teenaged sons Cameron and Robert were trapped inside the master bedroom unable to escape.

“We are now confident that we know fire conditions were such that it made survival by the occupants and rescue by emergency responders untenable,” said Fire marshal Tadeusz Wieclawek.

The fire marshal said the fire started in a clogged dryer vent on the main floor. He also said the vent had not been properly installed. There was also no smoke alarm on the main floor which the OFM called a critical factor. By the time the fire had spread and activated the second floor alarm outside the bedrooms investigators say it was too late.

“As a result there was a delay in the subsequent notification of the fire department by the 9-1-1 caller,” continued Wieclawek. “By the time the second floor alarm sounded fire conditions were as such that escape down the central stair case was no longer possible.”

One of the trapped family members made the 9-1-1 call around 5:30 a.m. Fire fighters arrived twelve minutes after but by then the house was already engulfed in flames.

Questions have been raised about the response time of the East Gwillimbury fire department but the OFM says the department's options were limited.

“Responding fire fighters were unable to conduct rescue or initiate interior suppression activities given the delay in the discovery of the fire and the extreme fire conditions faced by fire fighters on arrival.”

East Gwillimbury's fire chief says his fire fighters did all they could that day but says he plans to work closely with the OFM to see if there is anything his department can do that will help prevent another tragedy like this one.

Further to preventing tragedies like this from happening again, the fire marshal’s office is also planning a new public service announcement highlighting the dangers of improperly vented clothes dryers.

Link to article: Late detection led to four deaths in East Gwillimbury fire: Fire Marshal

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