June 08, 2014 - 1:05 PM
BRAMPTON, Ont. - A 10-year-old boy was killed and as many as 100 people were left homeless after a fire tore through a townhouse complex in Brampton, Ont., early on Sunday.
Police said between 200 and 300 people had to be evacuated from their residences after the blaze, which is believed to have started in the kitchen of one unit and spread quickly to neighbouring homes.
"It was a very intense fire," said Peel Region Police Const. Lillian Fitzpatrick.
"These people had to leave in the very early morning hours with nothing but the clothes on their backs."
While almost all affected residents were able to escape the raging flames, police said firefighters found the body of a young boy in one of the homes.
The child was at the home for a sleepover, Fitzpatrick said, but his family lives in the area.
"Obviously they are completely devastated at this point," she said of the boy's family.
"It's a very, very fresh wound for them. They need some time to collect themselves and deal with this horrible blow."
Police said an entire block was affected by the fire, which broke out just after 3 a.m.
Aerial footage from the scene showed a row of homes with blackened walls and scorched roofs.
Eighteen units were "profoundly damaged" in the blaze, while fire officials still have to assess the structural integrity of a number of other homes, said Fitzpatrick.
By mid morning, the fire had been knocked down, but police said it was "still active" in certain spots with smoke continuing to linger. Fire crews remained on scene.
Those forced out of their homes were being helped by Peel Region social services and the Salvation Army. Temporary accommodation was being arranged for those who needed it.
Officials said it could still be a day or two before residents are allowed to return to homes that survived the blaze.
"It's very difficult to say when they'll be able to go back because for them to go back to their homes it has to be safe for them to do so," said Fitzpatric.
"There are going to be immediate needs and social services are going to see that they are taken care of."
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, Peel police and the coroner's office are all investigating the incident.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014