Two people are dead and two others are in critical condition following an apartment fire early Friday on Dovercourt Road in Toronto's west end.
Fire officials said they were called to the blaze at 1068 Dovercourt Rd. near Dupont Street just after 3:10 a.m. The building has a second-floor, four-bedroom apartment above a vacant store.
Firefighters found a man badly burned near the door of the apartment unit. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Three other victims, a man and two women, were also found in the apartment.
They were rushed to hospital, without vital signs, where the woman died Friday afternoon. The other two remain in critical condition. Fire officials said all the victims are young adults.
A firefighter also sustained minor injuries, but remained on duty.
It is believed the fire started in the living room of the apartment, though the cause is still under investigation.
Fire officials said Friday afternoon they found "evidence" of smoke alarms on the second floor but suggested they may not have been in working order.
This weekend — when the clocks switch to Daylight Savings Time — is often used as a reminder to change the batteries in smoke alarms.
"When you spring ahead with your clocks, change the battery," said Capt. Adrian Ratushniak of Toronto Fire Service. "It's essential."
Plumes of smoke
The smoke in the Dovercourt Road apartment was so thick it set off alarms in neighbouring units.
Carson Foster, who lives next door, was awakened by his alarm.
"We were thinking it was a toaster or something," he told CBC News. The smoke was from the fire next door, where Foster could hear people inside.
"We could hear noises like people banging stuff, you know trying to get out," he said.
Foster called 911 and ran outside. He saw huge plumes of smoke pouring out the windows of his neighbour's apartment.
"I banged on the door and was yelling and there was no one responding," he said. "At that point I realized they were either unconscious or dead."
Deputy Fire Capt. Mike McCoy said flames were shooting out the windows when firefighters arrived.
"The fire had already breached the building itself … so it was already well established," McCoy told CBC News. "The fire gets knocked down quickly, but then you're still struggling with the smoke. The plaster had fallen off the ceiling, which makes finding victims difficult."
An earlier version of this story reported that the person who died in the fire was a woman. This information came from Toronto Fire Services early this morning and has since been corrected by the fire marshal's office.Mar 07, 2014 1:16 PM ET