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No criminal charges in fatal fire

DRPS cites lack of evidence and reasonable chance of conviction

Police will not lay criminal charges in connection to a fatal January fire which claimed four lives, including two children.

However, the home owner and its directors, plus two tenants, have been charged under the Ontario Fire Code.

The fire in question broke out at a home at 116 Centre Street North on the morning of Jan. 8, 2018. Durham Region Police Service investigators worked with the Coroner’s Office, Oshawa Fire Services, Ontario Fire Marshal and the Crown Attorney’s Office to review the evidence in the case, specifically whether there was enough to support charges such as arson or negligence causing death or bodily harm.

“After reviewing the information and evidence available, and after consultations with the Crown Attorney’s Office, there is insufficient evidence in this incident to support the laying of any criminal charges and no reasonable prospects for conviction,” a recently released statement by DRPS reveals.

The specifics of the charges laid against several parties under the Ontario Fire Code and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act have not been made public. Those charges were laid against the house’s registered owner, Vernacomp Limited, and its directors Wener Fritz Wilhelm Schwiering and Maria Ersilia Schwiering. Two tenants, Lori Jane McMullen and Alysha MacDonald have been charged as well.

The final report and forensic fire engineering report from The Office of Ontario Fire Marshal identified the cause and origin of the fire, but these details were not released either.

It was confirmed there were no working smoke alarms at the home.