2 tenants charged for disabling smoke alarms that killed 4 including two children in Hamilton

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Published December 19, 2023 at 5:41 pm

Canadian Press photo by Peter Power

Two tenants of a Hamilton Mountain townhouse that caught fire one year ago are now facing charges in connection with the blaze that killed four people, including two children.

The tenants, who were not named, have been charged with disabling the smoke alarms and failing to notify the landlord the smoke alarms had been disconnected.

If convicted, they face a fine of up to $50,000 for a first offence, imprisonment for up to a year, or both.

The blaze happened last Dec. 29 at a home on Derby Street in southeast Hamilton. Neighbours rushed towards the burning townhouse with ladders, a witness said at the time, as children inside screamed for help.

Hamilton Fire said in a statement Tuesday the investigation by the Office of the Fire Marshall determined there were no working smoke alarms on any floors of the residence.

Hamilton Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe said at the scene emergency crews did “everything they could through very difficult conditions.”

“It is very difficult when we bring people out and they, unfortunately, succumb to their injuries.”

The two people now facing charges were also taken to hospital that night.

“When seconds count, a working smoke alarm can mean the difference between life, death, or injury,” Hamilton Fire said. “Ensuring that you have working smoke alarms on every floor and outside sleeping areas in your residence is the best gift you can give your family this holiday season.”

Cunliffe had no further comment, saying the case is now before the courts.

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