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Owner charged in east-end house fire that killed 2

Fire crews at 141 Bastedo Ave., Aug. 12, 2011. CITYNEWS.

The owner of an east-end home has been charged following a fatal fire that left two people dead last week.

James Webster, 30, was charged under the Ontario Fire Code for the Aug. 12 blaze that killed Adam Smoke, 41, and Melody George.

Firefighters were called to 143 Bastedo Ave. just before 3:30 a.m. on Friday. Smoke died at the scene and George, his common-law wife, was revived and taken to hospital. She died later Friday morning.
There were no working smoke alarms in the home, fire officials said.

“The stove was left on,” Capt. Mike Strapko told CitryNews.ca.

It appears that the couple were in the basement and went upstairs to the kitchen.

“We found them about 15 feet in from the front door. They would have been walking right into the fire. Their chance of escape was very slim.

“The leading cause of fire in Toronto is unattended cooking…If they had working smoke alarms, it would have been a different,” Strapko said.

A funeral for Smoke and George will head at the Jarrett Funeral Home on Friday. The couple had four children from previous marriages, who weren’t home at the time of the fire. A family member says the children, who range in age from 7 to 16, lost everything – including their clothes – in the fire.

A trust fund has been set up to help the family. Donations can be made at any Royal Bank branch to the children of Adam Smoke and Melody George. Donations can also be made over the phone. Call Royal Bank at 905-884-6016.

Webster faces two charges relating to his alleged failure to provide, install and maintain smoke alarms on every storey of the home. He has also been charged with violations related to fire doors in a shared stairwell and temporary electrical wiring.  

Each charge carries a maximum fine of $50,000.