Cause of Oxford Mills fire identified

·2 min read

It has been determined that a dry Christmas tree was the cause of the fatal fire in Oxford Mills on January 10.

The investigation into the incident, carried out by the Office of the Fire Marshall, determined that the residents of the home on Stone Road had two friends over for dinner when their Christmas tree caught fire. Flames spread quickly throughout the house, giving them no time to escape. According to the Office of the Fire Marshall, this is the second fatal fire in Ontario caused by dry Christmas trees over the holiday season.

“These are very tragic and preventable incidents where five people lost their lives,” said a release from the Office of the Fire Marshall. “A dry Christmas tree is extremely hazardous as it can catch fire and spread through a home in seconds.”

North Grenville Fire Chief, John Okum, issued a statement last week expressing his deep condolences on behalf of the Fire Service to the families, friends, and greater community who have been impacted by the tragic fire. He also stated that the North Grenville Fire Service would like to echo the Office of the Fire Marshall in urging residents to dispose of dry Christmas trees immediately, check for any recalls on holiday lights, and check string lights for any damage.

Although there is no curbside pick up for Christmas trees in North Grenville, trees, with all decorations and tinsel removed, can be disposed of for free at the Oxford Mills waste transfer station throughout the month of January. After January, regular leaf and yard waste fees apply.

“I wish to acknowledge the professional service by all divisions with the Ontario Provincial Police, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall, and their Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit, who worked jointly to process all investigations of this difficult scene,” Chief Okum said in the release. “Each member contributed long and difficult hours with immense sensitivity for all victims of this tragedy.”

As mentioned, this was the second such tragedy to occur in Ontario this season. The Fire Marshall report emphasised how quickly such fires can spread, with horrendous consequences:

“On December 28, a couple had just woken up and were preparing for the day in their Halton Hills home when their tree caught fire. The man tried to extinguish the fire with an extinguisher, but it spread too fast. He was rescued from a second-floor bedroom balcony by the fire service. The woman was unable to escape and passed away. Tragically, the homeowners had planned to dispose of their tree on the same day the fire occurred. There is evidence the fire may have been ignited by an electrical failure of the Christmas tree’s lights – the most common source of ignition in these circumstances.”

Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times