A deadly blaze that ripped through a Brampton, Ont. home earlier this year, killing three family members, was caused by careless smoking, the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) has determined.
Flames erupted at the duplex in the Dixie Road and Bovaird Drive East area, leaving a mother, father, and teen girl dead, and nine-year-old Zoya Kapadia the lone survivor, on Feb. 14.
According to OFM fire investigation coordinator Rick Derstroff, the fire originated in the living room in the upper unit. There were no working smoke alarms, Derstroff said.
'This shouldn't happen'
"This shouldn't happen. And I look at how big a tragedy it was, and it was almost worse because we almost lost another young girl. If it wasn't for that visitor that was downstairs that heard the commotion, going upstairs and essentially rescuing that girl, we would have had a whole family wiped out."
A 19-year-old, who was staying with a friend who was renting a basement apartment in the lower unit, said he'd heard screaming from the upstairs floor in the middle of the night and smelled smoke.
After seeing flames from the upper bedroom, Sheldon Teague ran back into the home and helped Zoya Kapadia escape before re-entering the home to try to help the others.
The little girl was rushed to hospital and treated for severe burns and smoke inhalation, but survived.
Brampton Fire Chief Michael Clark said at the time firefighters didn't report hearing any working smoke alarms.
That's something an emotional Derstroff says has left him frustrated, adding the start of this year has been one of the worst he's seen when it comes to fire-related fatalities.
"It's very frustrating because I feel like the message is not getting out there," he said, adding more aggressive measures may be needed to ensure homes are equipped with functioning alarms and smoke detectors.
"I don't want to tell families [this] anymore because what do you tell them?
"'You mean to tell me my family would have been here if there just some smoke alarms in the house?' It's unacceptable."