January 19th, 2018

Mother, two kids among victims of deadly Oshawa, Ont., house fire


By Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press on January 9, 2018.

Firefighters pack up after responding to a house fire in Oshawa, Ont. on Monday, January 8, 2018. Two adults and two children have been killed in a house fire east of Toronto that also sent three other people to hospital, fire officials said Monday.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

A mother and her two young children and an unrelated man who ran into a burning home to help those inside have been identified in a series of online tributes as the victims of a deadly house fire in southern Ontario.

Officials have declined to formally identify the two adults and two children who died in Monday’s blaze that gutted a home in Oshawa, Ont. But social media posts from family members, friends and organizations connected with the deceased have provided the names of the four who died.

The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association identified three of the victims as Lindsey Bonchek and her two children, Madeline and Jackson. It described the trio as relatives of an association member.

The daughter and the niece of the fourth person killed in the fire both issued emotional Facebook posts naming him as Steven MacDonald.

MacDonald’s niece wrote that he died after going back into the burning home in order to rescue people inside.

Her account is echoed in a fundraising campaign organized by someone identifying himself as MacDonald’s future son-in-law.

“Luckily, my fiancee Alysha Macdonald (7 months pregnant) was able to get out of the house without any physical harm to her or her child,” Brandon Desroches wrote on a GoFundMe campaign page. “However, her father Steven Macdonald passed away while courageously running back into the building to save the others.”

Alysha MacDonald offered her own tribute in a Facebook post that spoke of her father’s generosity and devotion, but did not reference the specific circumstances of his death.

“We lost a true hero, I love you more than words can describe dad and I’m trying to stay strong cause I know it breaks your heart to see me cry ,” she wrote in the post. “Rest In Peace dad you were truly a hero.”

A friend of Bonchek’s cousin issued a Facebook post of his own, which linked to another GoFundMe campaign. That page described Boncheck as a single mother who worked tirelessly to provide for her three children.

“Lindsey will be terribly missed by her family; remembered as a devoted mother who did what she could with what she had for her children,” it said. “Madeline was a bright star and mathlete, who adored her youngest brother, Jack.”

Bonchek’s eldest son, who survived the fire, has nothing left but “the shirt on his back,” the page said.

Monday’s deadly blaze was reported a little after 8 a.m. in the midst of a heavy snowfall. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames that had to be fought from the outside before crews could attempt to rescue those trapped inside.

“The firefighters made several heroic attempts to get in and get to the upper levels and they were pushed back,” Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark said. “They fought their way up through intense heat and smoke conditions … and after retreating, they forced their way back in again.”

The brown brick house, officially classified as having two storeys plus a loft, was divided into a number of apartments, Clark said.

Durham Regional Police said the provincial Office of the Fire Marshall is currently in charge of investigating the fire. The office did not respond to request for comment.

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