The Ontario Fire Marshall’s office is providing an update after a spate of fatal fires in the Toronto and GTA area.The Ontario Fire Marshall’s office is providing an update after a spate of fatal fires in the Toronto and GTA area.

‘People are losing their lives’: Ontario’s fire marshal raises the alarm after spate of fatal fires

Ontario Fire Marshal gave an update on a spate of fires in the GTA-Waterloo region have left several injured and displaced since the beginning of June.

Ontario’s fire marshal raised the alarm Thursday on what Jon Pegg describes as a “terrifying trend” of fatal fires in the province.

A mother and child from Brampton and a 54-year-old in Waterloo are the latest victims to die in residential units with no working or malfunctioning fire alarms.

“We’ve seen this far too many times in recent days and weeks,” Pegg said at a news conference Thursday morning.

Earlier this week, a house in Waterloo with no smoke alarms was engulfed in flames, leaving a 54-year-old woman dead and two other adults injured.

Just a few days before that, in Brampton, a woman died from her injuries after a two-alarm fire on Friday night. A second victim, a child of unknown age, also died. Brampton Fire and Emergency Services said the flames were under control hours into the call. A third person remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

After completing the initial examination of the scene, no working fire alarms were found in the home’s basement or on the first floor where the family lived, Pegg said. While smoke alarms were found on the second and third floor, it is unclear at this time if they were operational.

“Over the last week alone, we have seen multiple fires where there are clear indications of either no smoke alarms or nonfunctioning alarms,” Pegg said.

On Tuesday, a four-alarm fire damaged several houses in a North York townhouse complex. No injuries were reported during the incident that left extended damage to the properties’ framework and back-ends, officials added.

On Wednesday, one person died inside a two-storey building in Toronto’s west end in what the city’s Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop described as a “very complex fire.”

Pegg also shared his concerns over first responders who are “risking their lives” in attempt to save the ones of others, in cases where functioning alarms would have given victims “an ample time to escape safely.”

“It is time for this trend to come to an end,” Pegg said. “People are losing their lives.”

Ontario broke its 20-year record of fire deaths in 2022 with 133 fatalities, a toll expected to swell as long as residents remain “indifferent to fire safety” and undermine the importance of working fire alarms, Pegg added.

“It’s painful,” Brampton Fire Chief Bill Boyes said. “It’s been an extremely difficult 16 months here. We’ve lost 13 residents, seven of them being children.”

Fire alarms must be installed on each storey of a residence under the provincial building code.

The Ontario Marshal is encouraging residents to not only install but frequently test smoke alarms, adding a fires are spreading swifter than ever and becoming fatal in less than a minute, especially with the use of synthetic materials in construction and furnitures.

“I’m imploring everyone to please go check your smoke alarms right now. It’s very simple. It takes a few seconds. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm and make sure you have a home escape plan so you know what to do in the event of a fire,” Boyes added.

Santiago Arias Orozco is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @SantiagoAriasO6

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