No battery

“All hell

in alarm:

broke loose”

Cause of tragedy still


under investigation

The absence of a working smoke alarm

and of a home fire escape planwere factors

in the fire, the Office of the Fire Marshal


has concluded.

OFM investigators have determined the

blaze originated on the exterior porch at the

As Alexandria tried to deal with the death of a youngmother and her three

front of the home, blocking the only exit

children, investigators tried to determine the cause of a devastating blaze on

from the home.

East Boundary Road last Friday morning.

Investigators also have determined that

Monday, Maxime Cholette, just 22 months, passed away at the Children’s

while there was a working smoke alarm on


the main storey of the home, there was no

“He never left the intensive care unit,” Mailloux said.

battery in the smoke alarm outside the

His mother, Sarah, 22, and her two other children, Chloe, 3 and Jacob, 10

sleeping areas on the second storey.

months, were killed in the earlymorning fire on East Boundary Road. The only

The household had three small children

remaining survivor of the blaze is the children’s father, MartinDesjardins, who

and highlights the importance of having a

was airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto in serious condition Friday

home fire escape plan.


The OFM continues to work closely with

Tired, sullen firefighters and grim-faced investigators from the Ontario

theNorthGlengarryFireDepartment on the

Provincial Police huddled in front of the charred home early Fridaymorning as


officers interviewed potential witnesses to the blaze. Brian Sliepenbeek, who

What to do

lives a couple houses north of the fire scene, said hiswife Rachel ran to help and

To ensure everyone is safe from fire, the

he remained with his children and called 911 after hearing calls for help at

Officeof theFireMarshal isurging residents

around 2:30 a.m. “My wife ran over to help. I called 911. Then all hell broke

to test smoke alarms to make sure they are

loose,” he said as he stood on a street corner near the scene. Rachel was one of

working, install battery-operated smoke

the first people on the scene and, at the request of firefighters, tended toMartin,


whohad leapt out of awindowto escape the blaze. Cholettewouldoftenbe seen

a battery back-up, and develop and practise

by neighbours playing in her yardwith her children or takingwalks around the

a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone

neighbourhood. “It’sa tragedy, inasmall neighbourhoodlike this,”Sliepenbeek

knows what to do if a fire occurs.

said. “When it’s a small community, it really affects everybody.” The OPP’s

It’s the law in Ontario to have working

SD&G Detachment Crime Unit is assisting the Ontario Office of the Chief

smoke alarms on every storey of the home

Coroner and the Office of the Fire Marshal with the investigation.

and outside all sleeping areas.

Photo Greg Kielec

This is the second fatal fire in Alexandria in two years. In April 2010, Sue

Failure to comply with the law can result

Four people died in an early-morning fire that

Delorme, the owner of the SueMagoo’s bar, died after a fire broke out above the

ina ticket of $235or a fine of up to$50,000 for

destroyed this East Boundary Road home.

Main Street establishment.

individuals or $100,000 for corporations.

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