Lack of smoke alarms in vaulted ceiling a factor in Christmas Eve fire
TORONTO — Investigators looking into an Ontario cottage fire that killed a family of four on Christmas Eve said Thursday that a lack of smoke alarms in the vaulted ceiling of the residence was a key factor in the deaths.
The exact cause of the fire at the cottage on Stoney Lake is unknown, but investigators said the blaze that killed two Toronto lawyers and their sons last December started in the living room.
Scott Evenden, an investigator with the Office of the Fire Marshal, said there were smoke alarms in the cottage but none in the vaulted ceiling or stairwell areas.
As the smoke rose from the fire, it gathered in the vaulted ceiling and then spread horizontally before triggering any of the cottage’s smoke alarms, he said.
The fire destroyed the cottage and killed Jacquie Gardner, her husband Geoff Taber, and their two sons, Scott and Andrew. Police have called it a Christmas tragedy.
Taber was a partner at the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and the firm said that Gardner had also worked there before moving on to Altamira Investment Services.