Investigations ongoing after Peel records five fire-related deaths in less than a week
City of Mississauga

Investigations ongoing after Peel records five fire-related deaths in less than a week

Peel fire services are shaken, and working tirelessly with investigators to determine how five residents lost their lives in fire-related incidents in less than a week last month.    

On March 7 at around 1:30 p.m, Peel Police were called to the area of Big Sky Way and Van Kirk Drive in Brampton to assist Brampton Fire in responding to a residential home fully engulfed in flames. In a statement on X/Twitter that evening, Peel police said no injuries had been reported and the cause was unknown/had yet to be determined. Just over a week later, Peel police released an update that revealed a tragic discovery inside the home. 

“While examining the scene, investigators made an unfortunate discovery when they located what was believed to be human remains within the destroyed house,” the March 15 update reads. Detectives from the Peel Regional Police Homicide Bureau have been working closely with the Office of the Chief Coroner to determine the cause of death, the release states. The remains have since been identified as belonging to Rajiv Warikoo, age 51, Shilpa Kotha, age 47, and Mahek Warikoo, age 16. All three of the deceased resided at the address prior to the fire.

“The circumstances surrounding the house fire remains the focus of an active investigation, and anyone with information or video footage (dashcam or otherwise) is urged to contact Homicide detectives,” the release states. 

The deaths came just a few days before another fatal fire was reported in Mississauga. 

In the early hours of March 12, Mississauga Fire Chief Deryn Rizzi reported on X/Twitter that Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services responded to a house fire that left two people dead and two others injured.

Officials estimated the fire broke out around 3 a.m. and by 6:19 a.m. Peel police revealed one person had died as a result of the fire. At 9:17 a.m. police confirmed a second person had also succumbed to their injuries in hospital. 

“Two people were able to self-evacuate prior to fire’s arrival and have been transported by Peel Paramedics to hospital, one with significant burn injuries,” Chief Rizzi’s statement reads. “Two people were rescued from the home by firefighters with vital signs absent. Patients were transported to the hospital.”

One of the victims of the fire was later identified by neighbours and a family member as Alice Kret who they said resided at the home on Bromsgrove Road for over 40 years. The other person who died in the fire has not been identified. 

In an email, a spokesperson confirmed the Office of the Fire Marshal was called in “to determine the cause, origin, and circumstance” of the Mississauga fire, which was initially thought to be “suspicious.” The spokesperson said two investigators were dispatched and have now completed the scene examination, “however the investigation remains ongoing and the cause has not been determined at this time.” The spokesperson confirmed that no working smoke alarms were present in the home at the time of the fire.

A spokesperson for the City of Mississauga said the City could not provide any information regarding the investigation until it has been completed.

“The tragic nature of this fire cannot be overstated and the responsibility to ensure all efforts are made and everything possible is done to avoid a tragic event such as this from happening again in the future, is one that Mississauga Fire takes very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “Every fire event is evaluated individually, especially fires involving loss of life. We will gather all available information to assess the circumstances of this event and use that information going forward to inform our public education, inspections and fire and life safety strategies.”


MFES firefighters work on putting a fire out during a practice drill at the fire service’s training centre last year.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer Files) 


The five fire-related deaths in one week are an alarming surge in fatalities for Peel’s two largest municipal fire services. 

According to a City of Brampton spokesperson, from 2019 to 2023, there were 24 fire-related fatalities, all of which were residential, except for one motor-vehicle collision. In Mississauga, there were only 14 fire-related fatalities between 2018 and 2022 and 83 percent were in residential occupancies. The Mississauga spokesperson said residential fires accounted for 58 percent of all structure fires over the same time period. 

In an effort to prevent future tragedies, the two fire services have been implementing a series of fire prevention measures.

Education is the first and most important step when it comes to preventing fires, the Mississauga spokesperson said. Over the past five years MFES has hired eight public education officers and 25 fire inspectors. Some of the programming that’s been developed over the last five years includes focusing on outreach in the city’s five highest risk communities — Malton, Applewood, Cooksville, Erin Mills and Churchill Meadows — which have been identified as high risk based on the frequency of structure fires, the spokesperson explained.

According to a report from MFES on its “future directions”, developing strategies and communication plans to support the city’s diverse population is a priority. This includes the hiring of more diverse recruits who could better connect and understand the different communities across Mississauga and their needs. 

“Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is essential for urban fire services. It should be incorporated into all aspects of MFES including department policies, recruitment practices, training and operations,” the report states. 

The fire service has also prioritized its Proactive Fire Inspection Program — a multi-year initiative that started in 2019 as a recommendation from the City’s Future Directions plans for MFES “to establish a clear inspection schedule for all high and moderate risk occupancies based on community risk factors.” The inspection frequency is based on the risk identified in the Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA), which identifies and assesses all of the existing risks within the community, as well as how they impact future emergency service delivery. MFES completed the first assessment in 2017 and is finalizing an updated risk assessment for 2023 mandatory under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, which requires all municipalities in Ontario to develop a CRA prior to July 1, 2024. The regulation also requires municipalities to use its community risk assessment to inform decisions about the provisions of fire protection services.

The risks identified under the assessment are used to inform MFES’ long-term strategic plan, also known as its future directions plan, which City Council recently approved. The findings of the 2023 CRA will directly inform the 2024 Future Directions Plan for MFES, with particular connections to fire prevention, public education, training, and emergency response.  Among other initiatives, MFES also engages in city-wide campaigns and events to raise awareness on specific fire-safety issues, which includes Fire Prevention Week, Open Houses, and Test Your Smoke Alarm Day. 

In Brampton, the fire service also has several fire prevention and education programs “to enhance fire code compliance and prevention measures and bolster resident preparedness in the event of a fire.” These measures include the Home Safe Home Program, After the Fire Blitz, Apartment Safety Program, School Safety Program, high-rise and low-rise fire safety inspections and various safety campaigns throughout the year. A City spokesperson for Brampton noted two new programs coming online this year include the Residential Enforcement Program and the Residential Rental Licensing Pilot Program, both of which are aimed at strengthening fire safety for residents.  The City also offers detailed fire safety information on its website in a number of different languages to serve the municipality's diverse population, including in Hindi and Punjabi.



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Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock

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