Nov. 8, 2011, Toronto - The dollar-store fire in Listowel, Ont., that killed volunteer firefighters Ken Rea and Raymond Walter was started by a propane torch being used by workers to repair a leak in the roof of the building.
The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) said Tuesday morning that it has completed
its investigation into the fire that claimed the lives of the two North Perth Fire
Service members on March 17.
The OFM said that after a comprehensive investigation, the fire in a commercial
building at 245 Main Street West in Listowel was determined to have been
caused by the use of a propane-fuelled torch during roof repairs.
Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek said the investigation highlights the fact that the fire could have been prevented.
"Once again, I wish to express my condolences to the families and friends of
Deputy District Chief Ken Rea and firefighter Raymond Walter,” Wieclawek said.
“The OFM’s investigation . . . also illustrates the unique challenges faced by the fire service when fighting fires in various types of building construction. As a result of our investigation, the OFM will incorporate what we have learned into existing training programs offered at the Ontario Fire College and to fire departments."
According to the OFM, workers were repairing a leak in the roof of the building. During the repairs, a fire started in the space between the roof and the suspended ceiling. The OFM said the fire burned undetected for a substantial amount of time. When fire crews arrived, there was light smoke observed at the roof line of the building. There were no signs of smoke or fire inside the building.
While Rea and Walter were inside the building attempting to locate and extinguish the fire, conditions changed rapidly and within seconds the roof collapsed and trapped the two firefighters. The OFM said that although immediate rescue efforts were made by fire crews, extreme fire and smoke conditions made rescue impossible.
Thousands of firefighters from across Canada attended the funeral for Rea and Walter in March. Recently, the Mikey Network, Canada 911 Ride and the Brock Township Fire Department (Sunderland, Cannington and Beaverton Fire Fighters Association) donated defibrillators to the North Perth Fire Department in memory of the two firefighters.