No batteries in west-end fire victim's smoke alarm, officials say
Published Monday, December 24, 2012 7:57AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 24, 2012 12:59PM EST
Fire officials say the victim of a fatal west-end fire did not have batteries in her smoke detector, raising questions about whether her death could have been prevented.
A woman, believed to be in her early 50s, died in a fire that broke out at about 10 p.m. Sunday in an apartment on Sorauren Avenue, near Dundas Street West and Lansdowne Avenue.
Deputy Fire Chief Debbie Higgins of Toronto Fire Services said it’s unclear why the victim’s smoke alarm was disabled. The fire itself was not large and may have been caused by “smoker’s material,” she added.
Neighbours said they smelled smoke in the apartment building late Sunday night.
“We thought it might have been a bin fire, it smelled like plastic or burning rubble,” a witness told CP24.
Witnesses alerted the building’s landlord to the smell. The group reportedly tried to climb the building’s stairs and enter the woman’s upstairs unit but a “big, black curtain” of smoke stopped them.
In an interview with CTV Toronto, the victim’s landlord said he does not know why the woman’s smoke alarm was disabled. He said he replaces the alarm’s batteries every year.
Emergency responders cordoned off an area around the building on Monday. At one point, approximately 10 vehicles belonging to Toronto Fire Services were spotted on the street.
Firefighters eventually managed to extinguish the blaze.
It’s believed that the woman lived alone. Her landlord told CTV Toronto that she has a teenaged daughter and son that do not live at the apartment.
The cause of the fire remains unclear. The Ontario Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Colin D'Mello