By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Oshawa fire officials have appealed to the public after an alarming trend of non-compliance with smoke alarm laws has emerged over the past month.
In 10 house fires the Oshawa Fire Service has responded to over the past 40 days, it has been discovered that in 80 per cent of the homes smoke alarms were either not installed or had no working batteries.
These fires have resulted in more than $4 million in property damage.
Perhaps the highest publicized incident was a fire that broke out at 116 Centre Street North on Jan. 8, which saw the death of four people, including two children.
Thirty-six-year-old Lindsay Bonchek, and her two children, nine-year-old Maddie, and four-year-old Jackson, and 50-year-old Steven Macdonald passed away as a result of the fire.
Fire Marshal officials later stated there were no working smoke alarms in the home, which was believed to have as many as 11 people living in it.
It is required by law that all landlords and homeowners have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home in addition to outside all sleeping areas.
The Ontario Fire Code also requires any building that contains a residential occupancy and any building attached to a garage to have a working carbon monoxide alarm in use.
Punishment for non-working smoke and/or carbon monoxide alarms can lead to a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual and/or one-year imprisonment.
Steve Martin, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, told The Oshawa Express they continue to look into the Centre Street fire.
Although he has no new information to report, Martin says when the Fire Marshal’s investigation is complete, the findings will be passed on to the Durham Regional Police Service.
DRPS spokesperson Const. George Tudos says it’s too early to determine whether there will be criminal charges laid as a result of the fire.