Retired couple died in weekend fire at Mississauga townhouse, friends say
Published Monday, April 23, 2018 7:55AM EDT Last Updated Monday, April 23, 2018 7:53PM EDT
The Office of the Fire Marshal is on scene investigating a deadly fire at a Mississauga townhouse that claimed the lives of a man and a woman on Sunday night.
Firefighters and paramedics were called to a home in the area of South Millway and Burnhamthorpe Road at around 7:30 p.m. Sunday for a house fire.
Reports from the scene suggested that the two victims were using a barbecue outside the home when the fire broke out.
A man and a woman were found without vital signs when emergency crews arrived at the townhouse.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman was rushed to hospital but later died.
Both victims are believed to be in their 50s.
Neighbours and friends have identified them as Jim and Irene Headley. Friends say the couple had been married for 50 years and have three adult sons, two of which live in British Columbia. The couple’s third son reportedly lives with them but was not home when the blaze broke out.
Their dog, Furbie, also died in the fire.
“Jim and Irene celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last October,” Barbara Keane, a friend of the victims, told CTV News Toronto.
“They were always together, both of them retired. They were good neighbours, good friends, just good people to be around.”
Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, John Benedetti, a fire investigator with the Office of the Fire Marshal, said that reports of an explosion prior to the fire are unfounded.
“Things such as car tires, when they are exposed to heat, they are pressurized so they will give off a loud popping sound,” he said.
“Being a garage that is heavily damage, you can imagine some of the contents that people hold in their garages or store in the garages, anything from aerosol canisters to propane cylinders. So when a fire happens, often times those type of items are exposed to heat and they will… blow.”
He added that it is not clear if the barbecue had anything to do with the fire.
“We are still in the very early stages of our investigation. I haven’t even begun to conduct a fire scene analysis. I can’t even tell you where specifically the fire started. I know there was some talk about maybe a garage fire but I’m speaking analytically. I don’t know yet because I have not been in the home,” Benedetti added.
“I’m confident at some point during the day I’ll be able to narrow down where my area of interest will be, at which time I’ll be hopefully examining a number of potential ignition sources for the fire.”
He said he expects to be on scene for the next two or three days.
Mississauga Fire Chief Tim Beckett was also reluctant to speculate on whether the barbecue was the source of the fire.
“Reports are they were cooking outside. The whereabouts of the barbecue at the time will be part of the investigation,” he said.
“We are not making any determination at this time whether the barbecue was or was not involved in it.”