On a windy spring 2015 night, deadly smoke from a second-floor apartment flowed down a hallway and past a stairwell door left permanently ajar by a warp. The door gap meant that residents heeding usual warnings to flee a fire down stairs, rather than in an elevator, ran into a stairwell that, according to a fire official, had become a “chimney.”
Firefighters found a woman in her 30s and her toddler son unconscious in the fifth-floor stairwell. On another floor, her husband also collapsed in the smoke.
The man emerged from intensive care, along with his son, but they had to bury the wife and mother whom friends say had recently joined him from their native Ghana.
The man lost his Canadian dream, and now the owner of the 2850 Jane St. highrise, south of Finch Ave. W., is paying a price for the warped door and other fire code offences discovered after the three-alarm blaze that sent four other people to hospital.
The Toronto-based numbered company that owns the building last week pleaded guilty in provincial offences court. A justice of the peace accepted a joint submission from the prosecutor and landlord’s lawyer for fines totaling $71,000.
A $50,000 penalty is for the stairwell door not latching properly. The remainder of the fine, to be paid within six months, is for not properly illuminating exit signs and having no records of emergency lighting tests, according to Toronto Fire Service.
A young woman who lives down the hall from the apartment where the fire started — from an unattended candle in a bedroom — recalled Monday hearing about the fire while out.
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