Woman unaccounted for after fire destroys Pickering home

Woman unaccounted for after fire destroys Pickering home
CTV News
Link to article: Woman unaccounted for after fire destroys Pickering home

Officials say one woman is unaccounted for following a fire that destroyed a home in Pickering early this morning.

The fire broke out at around 5 a.m. on Echo Point Court, near Dixie and Glenanna roads.

“Our crews arrived on scene about five minutes later and they found the… origin house fully involved and the house on the south side, the roof involved in that one. So (there was) a lot of fire when they first showed up,” Pickering Fire Chief John Hagg told CP24 on Wednesday morning.

“Crews did a great job to limit the fire damage to just the two structures here to keep it from getting a foothold on the third structure.”

The occupant of the home, who neighbours have described as a woman in her 60s, has not been accounted for, Hagg said, noting that crews have not yet had an opportunity to conduct a primary search of the residence. Emotional family members, believed to be the woman’s adult children, showed up at the scene Wednesday morning and were seen consoling each other.

“She’s had some health issues here and we were helping her deal with some fire safety issues,” he said. “Our staff are a little upset about this actually because (she is) a very, very nice lady.”

Firefighters told CP24 that they will have to bring in heavy equipment to remove parts of the structure before they can go inside.

The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) will be sending two investigators to look into the circumstances surrounding the devastating fire.

OFM lead investigator Jason Williams told CTV News Toronto he believes hoarding may have contributed to the damage caused by the blaze. Neighbours reported seeing “stuff piled against the window” of the home and several newspapers often left uncollected out front.

“Hoarding is an issue we deal with in a lot of fire investigations. It’s the nature of the beast and unfortunately this is the outcome,” he said. “When hoarding in a residential structure is present and a fire occurs, not only does it add that additional fuel load to the fire but also can – not saying for this case – but can limit the escape possibilities for the occupants inside.”

One neighbour said when he woke up and looked outside, he first thought it was daytime because the flames were so bright.

“I came outside and there was 15-foot flames coming out of the house,” he said. “It was brutal.”

The cause and origin of the fire have not yet been determined but fire officials say it is not believed to be suspicious.

Chief calls recent Pickering fires ‘entirely preventable’

This latest fire comes following three other residential fires in Pickering in the past two weeks.

In a news release sent out Wednesday, Hagg said a fire on Alwin Circle on Tuesday was initially believed to be suspicious but officials now believe it was caused by careless smoking.

He added that careless smoking was also likely to blame for a fire on Marksbury Road on March 18.

Faulty electrical wiring is believed to have caused a fire on Bem Avenue on March 23, according to the Hagg.

"As the Fire Chief of this community, I am disheartened knowing that these fires were entirely preventable, and I am especially saddened that there were associated fatalities," Hagg said in a written statement.

"These recent tragedies reinforce the critical importance of fire prevention. We will continue to work with Council, businesses, community groups, and residents toward a shared goal of zero fires in our community."

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