Update: Douro-Dummer Multiple Fatal Fire Investigation

Smoke Alarms Are Critical to Detect Fire and Warn Occupants

NEWS August 3, 2017

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) has completed the investigation into the fatal fire that occurred on December 24th, 2016 at 614 Hamilton Drive in Douro-Dummer Township, near Stoney Lake, where tragically a Toronto family of four perished in a fire. The OFMEM investigative team, which included fire investigators and forensic engineers, worked in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner, Ontario Provincial Police and the Douro-Dummer Township Fire Department. A systematic scene analysis was conducted, which included fire pattern analysis and examination of the dwelling’s utilities.

The investigative findings confirmed that the fire originated on the ground floor living room area. The fire spread up through an open stairwell between the ground floor and the second floor, situated in the centre of the residence. Due to an extreme amount of fire damage to the dwelling, a specific ignition source for the fire could not be identified. As a result, the cause of the fire was classified as undetermined. Our investigation did confirm that the residence was equipped with multiple stand-alone smoke alarms.

Because of the unique layout of this residence (open centre stairwell, vaulted ceilings) and the location where the fire started, the location and wall mounting of the smoke alarms could possibly have caused a delay in their activation. This delay may have contributed to the family not having early warning of the fire or the ability to escape safely.

QUOTES
“This tragedy reinforces the importance of having smoke alarms installed properly and in the correct location, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Early warning of a fire in your home significantly increases the likelihood of survival, and Ontario law requires that working smoke alarms be located on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. It is important that everyone know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Developing and practising a home fire escape plan is your best chance of surviving a fire.”

– Ross Nichols, Ontario Fire Marshal & Chief of Emergency Management
Steps to ensure your smoke alarms are working and installed correctly:

• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, testing and maintaining smoke alarms.
• Install smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. We recommend installing them in bedrooms too.
• Test smoke alarms monthly.
• Change the batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year or whenever the low battery warning sounds.
• Check the manufacturer’s date on the back of the alarm. The alarm should be replaced in keeping with manufacturer’s instructions.
• In addition to having smoke alarms, everyone must know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Developing and practising a home fire escape plan is your best chance of surviving a fire.

Tony Pacheco, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, 647-329-1203
ontario.ca/safety-news
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