Hamilton

Careless smoking caused fire that killed mother, 2 children

An investigation into an east Mountain fire that killed a mother and two of her children has shown the fire was caused by careless smoking.
A woman and her two children were killed in a fire caused by careless smoking, according to an investigation from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

An investigation into an east Mountain fire that killed a mother and two of her children has shown the fire was caused by careless smoking.

Fire broke out at a CityHousing Hamilton home at 36 Laird Drive on June 15.

Ontario Fire Marshal investigator Richard Derstroff told CBC News that the fire started in the basement, and was caused by careless smoking.

"In that area there were a multitude of materials that could have been ignited," he said.

The mother and her two adult children were found on the main level of the home, close to the front door.

All three died of smoke inhalation, Derstroff said.

When we have deaths, we want to make sure this isn't something that happens in the future.- Richard Derstroff, Ontario Fire Marshal investigator 

"It's next to impossible to determine exactly what their actions were, or whether they were trying to escape," he said.

Investigators did find some evidence that someone had tried to douse the flames, with water running in a basement laundry room.

"It appears that someone tried to extinguish the fire, but was unsuccessful," Derstroff said.

The home did have two fire alarms, which were hard wired. However, the one in the basement was too damaged by the fire to be tested.

Neighbours at the scene of the fire back in June told CBC News that the family was quiet and friendly.

"It makes me feel sad because it could happen to anybody," said one neighbour, Karen Rogers.

Derstroff stressed the need for people to ensure they have working smoke alarms in their homes that are tested monthly, as well as an escape plan in case of fire.

"When you practice it, it becomes second nature," he said.

"When we have deaths, we want to make sure this isn't something that happens in the future."

adam.carter@cbc.ca

now