Emergency officials have reported the recovery of two bodies of children at the scene of a fire that tore through a stretch of houses in Oshawa on Monday morning. This brings the death toll of the fire to four.
Officials were at the location of the fire on Tuesday to offer an update on the probe, saying that apart from the two adult bodies discovered in the wreckage on Monday evening, crews have now as well found the bodies of two kids.
Emergency crews were looking for four missing people since the blaze took place Monday morning at about 1 a.m on Olive Avenue in Oshawa. Fire Chief Derrick Clark all four of those persons have been identified.
“I want to send my condolences to all involved in this terrible tragedy. It’s affected the whole city. We’re a tight community and we all feel the pain that they’re feeling,” Fire Chief Derrick Clark told reporters on Tuesday night.
Emergency crews say their arrived at the scene of the fire Monday morning to find a row home fully engulfed in flames. Many homes along Olive Avenue were evacuated because of the blaze. As per Durham Regional Police, at least 7 units on the street were damaged.
Clark said there is unclear information on how the fire began; however, did say that the building was “very structurally compromised.” He said that apart from the people who perished, emergency crews pulled five others from the scene who were injured and taken to hospital.
Speaking to reporters, Durham police acting sergeant George Tudos said that the major crime division started a formal investigation into the fire after authorities received particular information related to the incident.
“I can’t get into the details of what exactly that information is, but I know that information was brought to the attention of our investigators, and it prompted us to get involved,” he said.
The sergeant said police and fire officials would not release additional information on the four people who died in the fire. He said police are working with the Center of Forensic Sciences to identify who they are.
“We’re hoping that they can assist us with the confirmation and identification of the four deceased parties that we removed from the residence,” he said.
Whereas officials have not identified any of the house’s residents, many family members have said that three young boys lived there with their parents, at least two boarders and their grandpa.
Michael Thompson, who was renting a place on the second floor of the building, said Tuesday that he was asleep when the tenants on the first floor called to tell him the house on the blaze.
“It just all happened so fast,” Thompson said. “The smoke was so thick we couldn’t even see our hands in front of our face, and by the time the few of us got out of it, it was impossible to get everybody out, the house was in engulfed.”
He said the son-in-law of the house’s owner rushed upstairs and told them to move out. Thompson said he assumed the person came up to get two kids, who were sleeping in rooms on the second floor.
“We assumed he came up to the children. Me and the owner vacated, we got out. We tried or attempted to go back in to get the two fellas on the third floor but just too much smoke, too much flame. It was impossible to get back in.”
Thompson’s injured his hand while escaping from the burning house, and said he had to break a bathroom window so as to get out.
“I sliced it on the glass,” he said.
Thompson, visibly shocked by what happened, said that he wishes he could have done a lot more to help the individuals in the home.
“I feel I could have did more, but I couldn’t. I feel guilty,” he said. “I’d rather change places with the kids, honestly.”
Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said that the probe into the cause of the fire is ongoing; however, “floors have collapsed down on each other,” increasing the difficulty of searching the wreckage.
Clark urged everyone in Ontario to have a fire escape plan in place and functioning fire alarms in their houses to avoid fire tragedies.
“It’s going to be the thing that saves your life one day,” he said.