The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office (OFM) says the lack of working smoke alarms contributed to the deaths of six individuals in two separate house fires in Hamilton.
A mother and her two children were killed following a blaze at a residence at 70 Niagara St. in the early morning hours of Aug. 6.
Officials said the family was in the attic bedroom when the fire broke out in the two-and-a-half-storey home.
“Preliminary investigative findings from the excavation reveals the remains of one smoke alarm. As we continued through the process, we were unable to uncover a corresponding battery to that alarm,” OFM supervisor Wayne Romaine told reporters in Hamilton Wednesday morning.
Romaine said there were 11 occupants inside the home at the time of the fire.
“After reviewing all the statements, there is no information to suggest or support an audible alarm being heard from the residents during the early stages of this fire development.”
Romaine said three of the four smoke alarms recovered inside a home of a fatal fire that claimed the lives of three people at 191 Grenfell St. on Oct. 1 were found to be non-functioning.
“Three were recovered from the second floor without any batteries and the fourth was found in the west of the home in a side entrance. It did in fact have a nine-volt battery,” Romaine said.
“The smoke alarm placement, it would not have provided early detection or warning to the occupants as the fire developed.”
Romaine said the causes of both fires are still under investigation.
In the meantime, fire officials are reminding residents, landlords and homeowners to inspect their smoke alarms regularly and to make sure they are placed in an area where they can be heard.
“Ensure that you and your family are properly protected by having smoke alarms on each floor of your residence. If you have smoke alarms that are over 10 years old, replace them,” Hamilton Fire Chief David Cunliffe said.
“Proper installation and operation of smoke alarms will ensure that you and your family will be able to safely escape a fire in your home or apartment.”
The fire investigation update coincides with Ontario Fire Prevention Week which runs from Oct. 9 to 15.