Ontario officials: 2 adults, 2 children killed in house fire
HAMILTON, Ontario (AP) — There was no evidence of working smoke alarms in a Hamilton house that caught fire, claiming the lives of four people, Ontario officials said Friday.
Two adults and two children died in a hospital after firefighters pulled them from the second floor of the burning townhouse Thursday night in the city’s southeast, Hamilton fire Chief Dave Cunliffe said Friday.
Cunliffe said about 30 firefighters were at the scene when the blaze was at its peak.
“They did everything they could through very difficult conditions,” he said. “It is very difficult when we bring people out and they, unfortunately, succumb to their injuries.”
Two other people inside the home were hospitalized in stable condition, Hamilton police said in a statement early Friday morning.
Police did not immediately confirm the victims’ identities, the relation between them, or details about the two people who survived.
The Ontario fire marshal’s office is continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.
Speaking at the scene, fire investigator Mike Ross said it appears that the fire started and spread across the entire ground floor before migrating up the stairs to the second floor.
Crews were called to the townhouse just after 11 p.m.
Witnesses said neighbors rushed toward the burning home with ladders as children inside screamed for help.
Chris Theriault, who lives next-door and had to evacuate as a result of the fire, said three or four neighbors were trying to get a ladder up to a man on the second floor who was hanging out his window, also screaming for help.
“There was black smoke billowing and I heard children screaming inside to help them,” Theriault said. “Obviously by the time the firefighters got to them it was too late.”
Juliana Tavares, a family friend of the residents of the unit, said some of the people in the house were related and that the kids were a brother and sister with “an amazing bond.”
She described the brother as the “most sensitive young boy” who helped others and the sister as a “brilliant, intelligent young girl” who “lit up a room.”
“I was just here two days ago with (the kids) opening their gifts from Christmas and I can’t even believe it,” she said.