Two people were killed and two others were fighting for their lives after flames ripped through an apartment that may not have had working smoke detectors.
Toronto Fire Services says the deadly blaze erupted around 3 a.m. above a vacant storefront at 1068 Dovercourt Rd., just south of Dupont St., and the apartment was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived.
“Fire crews were faced with heavy heat and heavy black smoke coming from the second floor,” Capt. Adrian Ratushniak said at the scene. “They did not find any smoke alarms sounding.”
Shortly before firefighters arrived, neighbour Carson Foster was awakened by alarms in his home as smoke seeped in from the burning apartment.
He heard people “scrambling” and “banging around” next door as he rushed outside, then raced down a laneway and up the fire escape to ensure his neighbours were awake.
“I got to the door … I was banging on it, yelling in, there was a lot of smoke coming out and there was absolutely no noise,” said Foster, who doesn’t recall hearing alarms from within the apartment.
Within moments, firefighters arrived and he figured it was best to get out of their way.
Fire crews pulled four adults from the burning apartment — which consists of four bedrooms, a common living room and common kitchen — before dousing the two-alarm blaze.
One man, believed to be in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene.
About 12 hours later, Ratushniak revealed a woman, also thought to be in her 20s, had succumbed to her injuries.
Their names were not immediately available.
The other occupants remained in critical condition in hospital late Friday.
A firefighter also suffered minor smoke inhalation while battling the blaze. And a cat also perished in the fire.
Ontario Fire Marshal’s office investigators spent the day sifting through debris in the charred apartment, trying to determine what sparked the fire.
OFM investigator Tim Irish said they “found evidence of smoke alarms.”
However, the detectors were badly damaged in the fire, so tests will have to be conducted to determine if they were functioning, he said.
“Having a working smoke alarm is imperative,” Ratushniak said, urging citizens to check the life-saving detectors in their homes this weekend when they set their clocks ahead a for daylight savings time.
Carson, still visibly shaken hours after the fire was doused, said he couldn’t believe how fast the flames spread.
“I’m thankful for my smoke alarms,” he said. “I feel so bad for the families of the people involved.”