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Charges laid in fatal fire

The investigation into a fatal Centre Street Fire in January has concluded. Charges have been laid against the owner, directors and two occupants of the building under the Ontario Fire Code and Fire Protection and Prevention Act. Details of the cause of the fire, contained in the Ontario Fire Marshal’s report, have not been made public yet. (Oshawa Express file photo)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Charges have been laid in relation to a fatal downtown fire that claimed four lives in January, but other details such as the cause remain unknown.

On Monday (Nov. 5), Oshawa Fire Service (OFS) announced it had received the final report and forensic fire engineering report from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal regarding the fire at 116 Centre Street North on Jan. 8, 2018.

That day, fire crews and police responded to the home around 8 a.m. to discover heavy fire and smoke conditions.

Despite their efforts, four people ultimately perished in the fire, including two children.

Following the investigation, charges have been laid under the Ontario Fire Code and Fire Protection and Prevention Act against the owner of the property and its directors. In addition, two occupants who resided in the lower levels at the home were charged as well.

Specific details on these charges were unavailable as The Oshawa Express’ press time.

The Express also reached out to the Durham Regional Police Service as to whether criminal charges have been or potentially could be laid but did not receive a response as of yet.

The Fire Marshal’s reports indicate the fire began on the main level of the residence and ruled out natural gas heating as the cause of the fire.

The report includes the cause and origin of the fire, but these were not identified in a news release from the City of Oshawa.

The release states the final report and forensic fire engineering report are not public documents.

Lonnie Shubert of the Fire Marshal’s office told The Oshawa Express they cannot publicly release the reports until given approval by police and fire.

The release did identify the fact there were no working smoke alarms in the house as a major factor in the deaths.

“If working smoke alarms had been in place, the occupants would have had early detection and the opportunity to escape,” Rick Derstroff, fire investigations supervisor for the Office of the Fire Marshal stated in the release.

Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark echoed these comments.

“Working smoke alarms save lives,” said Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark. “For as little as $20, the cost of a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm is one of the best investments you can make to keep your family safe.”

Landlords and homeowners are required by law to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Tenants are required to report deficiencies of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to their landlords. The fine for non-working smoke alarms is up to $50,000 for an individual and/or one-year imprisonment.