As investigators attempt to determine why a deadly fire spread so quickly through a Brampton townhouse development, they are looking into the possibility it was not constructed according to building code standards.
The fire broke out early Saturday morning, then quickly spread in the complex of homes on Ardglen Drive, near Kennedy Road South and Clarence Avenue. By the time it was doused, the fire had claimed the life of one child and left up to 100 people without homes.
Acting Division Chief Gary Jarrett told reporters that the Ontario Fire Marshal's office has taken over the investigation.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions," Jarrett said on Monday. "I can tell you that the roof is under examination. Why did the fire spread the way it did through this facility and... displace the entire building?"
The row of townhomes was originally built with a flat roof, before a peaked roof was installed on top later. That left an attic space, the original roof, and then a second roof. According to fire officials, the hollow area between the flat and peaked roofs made it difficult for firefighters to control the blaze from above.
Current building code dictates that firewalls must be built in to roofs to slow the spread of fires, but officials are unsure whether there were any firewalls in the hollow area between the roofs.
"The townhomes today, under building code, are required to have fire separations every so many units to stop this very thing from happening," Jerrett said.
However, he was not sure how old the homes were. If they were built before the building code was updated, they would fall under previous legislation and would not be expected to uphold today's structural standards.
The owners of the townhouse complex told reporters that the building was up to code when it was build, but weren't sure if it met current standards.
Money raised for victims of the fire
Officials believe the fire broke out in the kitchen of a unit where 10-year-old Nicolas Gabriel was sleeping over with a friend and the friend's dad.
When the fire started at about 3:15 a.m., a neighbour kicked down the unit's door and found a man asleep on the couch. The neighbour was able to rescue the man and his son, but didn't know Gabriel was asleep. The boy's body was found five hours later.
Since the fire, more than $10,000 has been raised through a trust fund to pay for the boy's funeral. The funeral is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $15,000, and any additional money raised will go towards helping residents of the damaged townhouses rebuild their lives.
Two other trust funds have been set up to support the residents affected by the fire. Donations can be made to Giving to Ardglen or Nicolas Gabriel/Ardglen Trust Fund.
Officials say of the 18 families who were displaced as a result of the fire, seven are still staying at city shelters. Members of Peel Regional Police will be helping them find more permanent lodgings.
Community in mourning
Gabriel's mother, Kelly Gabriel, visited a makeshift memorial for her son on Tuesday. Flowers and stuffed animals have been left by members of the community on the front lawn of the townhouse where the young boy died. Kelly was joined by her surviving son and daughter, her husband, and the children’s grandmother.
Down the street, at Sir Winston Churchill Public School, where Gabriel was a Grade 4 student, another memorial has been created to remember the young boy. The school's Canadian flag also flew at half-mast on Tuesday.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney