Three townhouse fires in three municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area in 10 days is unusual.
Although there’s no pattern to the fires (and no fatalities or injuries), there are similarities – particularly the extent of fire spread – that should alert residents to plan and practice their escape.
A fire in Oakville, Ont., on Aug. 4 damaged four units in a seven-unit townhouse complex. Chief Paul Boissonneault told a local news website the fire was a challenge to fight because the units backed onto a lake and were inaccessible from the rear.
“One of the units was heavily involved with fire coming out the upper windows and through the roof upon arrival,” Boissonneault said. “The roofline was already breeching on the neighbouring unit to the east.”
A July 26 fire at a townhouse complex in Richmond Hill, northeast of Toronto, affected 16 homes.
Twelve hours later, an early morning fire on July 27 in Stoney Creek, west of Toronto, started in the backyard of attached townhomes and was swept by wind down the roofline. Eleven units were severely damaged.
Andrea Gaynor, an investigator with the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, told CBC News there was no early detection because the fire started outside and intensified as it engulfed the building.
NFPA recommends that residents have two ways out of every room, that home escape plans be practiced at least twice a year, and that residents have an outside meeting place – a tree or mailbox or a nearby neighbour’s driveway.
If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure someone is assigned to help them.