After a comprehensive fire investigation, the Fire Marshal has determined that the cause of a devastating apartment fire in Toronto last September was a discarded cigarette that landed on combustible materials on the balcony of a neighboring apartment.
The tremendous growth and spread of the fire, in which 17 people including five children and three firefighters were injured, was a result of hoarding.
Given this was a large multi-unit dwelling, the intensity of the fire hampered firefighting efforts and created a significant risk to first responders and those attempting to evacuate the building. Investigators conclude this was due to the excessive amount of materials stored on the balcony, which well exceeded the height of the safety railing, and combustible materials that were stored at a significant depth throughout the apartment.
It would have been easy for someone to have been trapped inside.
“Though we are fortunate no one died as a result, this fire caused significant property loss and hardship for everyone who lived in the building,” according to Ted Wieclawek, Ontario Fire Marshal.
The 30 storey, 711 unit residential apartment building owned by Toronto Community Housing Corporation was operated by a property management company at the time of the fire.
Landlords and property owners to asked to inform local fire departments of instances of hoarding where they believe it poses a fire safety risk. Local fire departments can help to address these instances of hoarding through their partnerships with other community mental health and supporting agencies.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.