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Fire hero loses everything in devastating blaze

After the Fire Blitz finds several homes missing the boat on fire safety measures and equipment and that is disturbing
A fire that gutted a bungalow on Highview Road is being investigated by the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office. Robin MacLennan/BarrieToday

Dennis Soules ran into a burning Barrie motel back in December, 2012, saving two young children and a few other guests.

Neighbours say he's the same man who ran out of a burning house early Tuesday morning, along with his three young children and their uncle.

"Isn't that unbelievable?" asked a neighbour, who didn't want to be identified.  "He's the same guy. It was pretty scary to see this last night and I'm just glad everyone got out safely."

The fire at 15 Highview Road, is believed to have started in a basement bedroom. It was reported just before 2 a.m., by a neighbour who heard yelling and called 911.

While the extensive damage isn't readily visible from the street, the inside of the bungalow was fully gutted by flames and destroyed by thick smoke. The dad and his three elementary school-aged children lost everything and did not have insurance. Damage is estimated at $350,000.

The Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM)  spent several hours in the house on Tuesday, investigating the cause and origin of the blaze.

Firefighters returned to the scene at about 4 p.m., to extinguish minor hotspots in the attic. Barrie police remain outside.

Two cats and a dog survived the blaze, while a dog and a cat perished.

Firefighters conducted an "After the Fire Blitz" on the street today, visiting residents to discuss the fire, provide safety tips and inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

They were disappointed by what they found.

"I personally got into five homes, and only one was fully compliant with smoke and CO alarms," said Samantha Hoffmann, public fire and life safety officer at Barrie Fire and Emergency Services.

Her troubling findings included:

  • Alarms missing because the family took them down to paint
  • Outdated alarms
  • Smoke alarms still in packages
  • Insufficient alarms (fire code requires one alarm per storey)
  • Missing batteries

"What disturbs me most, is that these homeowners invited us into their homes because they fully believed they were compliant," Hoffmann said.

"People don’t know what they don’t know and when it comes to the lifespan of smoke alarms I would say most people have no idea that they don’t last forever."

Barrie firefighters have been conducting After the Fire Blitzes since 2012.

"The results are always disturbing," Hoffmann concluded.



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Robin MacLennan

About the Author: Robin MacLennan

Robin MacLennan has been a reporter, photographer and editor for the daily media in Barrie, across Simcoe County and Toronto for many years. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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