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'Unattended cooking' blamed for fire that killed boy

Toronto Sun crime reporter Chris Doucette. (Sun files)

By Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

Investigators now believe the house fire that claimed the life of 10-year-old Mark Mrochuk in Scarborough last weekend was caused by “unattended cooking.”

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) was called in to probe the circumstances of the deadly blaze at a Toronto Community Housing Corporation townhouse complex on Kingston Rd., east of Galloway Rd.. The fire erupted around 5:15 a.m. Saturday, trapping four siblings and their mom upstairs in their bedrooms.

“The (OFMEM) is now confirming that the cause of the fatal fire that occurred ... was accidental, as a result of unattended cooking,” spokesman Carol Gravelle said in a statement released Friday.

All four kids and their mom were rushed to hospital.

The mother and one daughter suffered serious injuries. Another daughter and one son suffered minor injuries.

The eldest child, Mark Jr., died later in hospital. The Toronto Sun later learned the youngster was hospitalized last year because of a brain tumour.

His father, Mark Sr., was the only family member to escape the fire unscathed.

Investigators have said the family patriarch “self-evacuated” and was outside the townhouse when firefighters arrived to douse the flames.

“Preliminary findings indicate the fire originated in the kitchen, on the stove,” Gravelle said. “The fire developed within the confines of the kitchen and then extended up the staircase to the second floor, trapping the victims on the second floor and blocking their escape down the stairs.”

“The OFMEM is continuing its comprehensive fire investigation into the origin, cause and circumstances of the fire with assistance from the Office of the Chief Coroner, Toronto Police Service (and) Toronto Fire Services,” she added.

Gravelle pointed out that unattended cooking is the leading cause of house fires and second most common cause of fire fatalities.

“With the upcoming holiday weekend, the OFMEM would like to remind all Ontario families that when you are cooking, always stay in the kitchen,” she said.

A friend has started an online campaign at gofundme.com/qau6baa hoping to raise $50,000 to help with funeral expenses for young Mark. As of Friday evening, just over $700 had been raised.

chris.doucette@sunmedia.ca