‘I heard children screaming inside’: Four dead after Hamilton house fire


Published December 30, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Hamilton fire in house

Neighbours rushed towards a burning Hamilton home with ladders, a witness said, as children inside screamed for help during a Thursday night fire that left four people dead.

Chris Theriault, who lives next door and had to evacuate as a result of the fire, said three or four neighbours were trying to get a ladder up to a man on the second floor.

“There was black smoke billowing and I heard children screaming inside to help them. Obviously by the time the firefighters got to them it was too late,” Theriault said Friday.

Two adults and two children died in hospital after firefighters found them on the second floor of the burning townhouse in the city’s southeast, Hamilton fire Chief Dave Cunliffe said at the scene Friday.

“They did everything they could through very difficult conditions,” he said of emergency crews.

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

Two other people inside the home were also taken to hospital where they were in stable condition, Hamilton police said in a statement early Friday morning.

Police did not immediately confirm the victims’ identities, the relation between them, or details about the other two people who were found inside.

Neighbours described hearing the pop of shattered windows Thursday night as smoke escaped from the townhouse and flames lit up the sky.

The townhouse exterior was blackened from smoke Friday and a charred hole remained where a front door once stood.

Police tape wrapped around a tree in the front lawn and crossed an open garage door where a pink toy car could be seen inside.

Crews were called to the townhouse just after 11 p.m., and upon arrival firefighters could see heavy smoke and fire coming from the front and back of the unit, fire officials said.

The first firefighters to arrive were told there were people trapped on the second floor, Cunliffe said.

Crews battled through fire, heavy smoke and high heat as they pulled four people from the home.

Firefighters and paramedics started life-saving measures on the four people before they were taken to hospital. Life-saving measures continued there, the fire department said, but all four died from their injuries.

Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating and the cause of the fire, as well as the extent of the damage, has not yet been determined.

“I’d like to express our condolences on behalf of the Office of the Fire Marshal to the family, friends and to the first responders all involved in this situation. Very tragic situation,” said deputy fire marshal Tim Beckett.

Residents evacuated from the two adjacent units Thursday night and could return to their homes Friday, police and fire said.

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