BRAMPTON, Ont. — A mother, father and their three children died in a house fire in Brampton, Ont., on Monday as firefighters risked their lives trying to rescue them.
Brampton fire Chief Bill Boyes said crews were met with heavy smoke and flames when they arrived on the scene around 2 a.m.
“Our hearts are absolutely breaking,” Boyes said. “What happened here today, to lose three children and two adults, with one additional person in life-threatening condition, it’s absolutely tragic.”
Boyes said the children who died were six, eight and 11 years old, and the two adults who died were their mother and father.
Randy Narine, a Brampton firefighter who said he is related to the family, identified the parents who died Monday as Nazir Ali, 28, and Raven Alisha Ali-O’dea, 29. He identified the children who lost their lives as Layla Rose Ali-O’dea, Jayden Prince Ali-O’dea and Alia Marilyn Ali-O’dea.
Narine, who said he was Ali’s cousin, also shared a written statement from Ali’s sister.
“They were very family oriented, compassionate, and always looking out for not only themselves, but everyone around them,” Bismah Fatimah Ali said of those who died.
The interior of the upper floor of the family’s home was blackened by the fire. Caution tape was put up to restrict access to the premises as police and fire crews investigated.
Const. Heather Cannon of Peel Regional Police said two children were taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, while a third child was pronounced dead at the scene. Two adults were also pronounced dead at the scene, she said.
Another adult was sent to a local hospital and was later taken to a trauma centre where they were in critical condition, Cannon said. Boyes said that adult is related to the family members who died.
Two remaining adults, who were tenants living in the basement, were able to get out of the home and were not hurt, Boyes added.
Firefighters did everything they could to rescue the family who died, the fire chief said.
“They risked their lives to go into this fire and get these people out,” Boyes said. “Unfortunately, it was a terrible outcome.”
The fire comes just two months after another deadly blaze killed three brothers in a house fire in Brampton. Boyes said the same platoon that responded to that fire responded to Monday’s blaze.
“They’re upset. They took heroic actions to go in, as you can imagine, a difficult fire situation to go in, through the windows into a raging inferno and try to rescue people,” he said.
“They’re dealing with an extremely difficult situation and we’re going to ensure that every psychological resource possibly available will be there for them.”
John Lambe, who lives in the area, said he heard fire engines in the neighbourhood around 2:30 a.m. on Monday. He said he couldn’t go back to sleep afterwards, adding his mind was replaying what had happened.
“When we learned of the passing, I don’t know, you’ve got an empty feeling. It’s very hard to concentrate and do anything,” he said.
Lambe said he used to greet the family when he would see them, noting the tragic incident has affected many in the “quiet” neighbourhood.
“It’s quite sad to hear what’s happening here today. It’s going to hit this neighbourhood pretty hard,” he said.
Boyes said an investigation into the origin, cause and circumstances of the deadly fire is being led by the Office of the Fire Marshal, with assistance from Peel Regional Police and Brampton fire investigators.
Deputy Fire Marshal Tim Beckett said a team of five people from the Office of the Fire Marshal were on the scene Monday and would be there for the next several days.
“We did some initial walkthrough, had a quick look at the scene and what we’re dealing with and now it will be the time to really start into a methodical approach,” Beckett said.
Beckett said investigators will be examining whether there were working smoke alarms in the home.
“Fire burns so quickly nowadays with all the synthetics we have inside our homes. You’ve got minutes now to get out of the house and a working smoke alarm can help save your life,” he said.
Premier Doug Ford expressed sadness at the “tragic deaths.”
“I just can’t imagine the hurt being felt by the family, the friends and the community. You’ll all be in our prayers,” he said during an unrelated announcement in Brampton on Monday
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was with Ford, said his thoughts were with family and friends of those who died.
“We’re all thinking of those affected by this horrible, heartbreaking tragic fire,” he said.
Beckett said 2022 has been an “extremely deadly year” for fires in Ontario so far, with more than 20 people dying in January, 19 in February and the number of fatalities in March still being counted.
“We haven’t pinpointed I guess I’ll call it a theme across Ontario around that, but what we do know is that a number of these fires didn’t have working smoke alarms,” he said. “And it’s those working smoke alarms that give people that chance.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press