Deadly blaze likely ignited by cigarette butt

The fire at 41 Kimbermount Dr. that killed two and injured another last month was likely caused by a cigarette, officials say.

“A mattress is a highly combustible material,” Fire Capt. Randy Piercey said. “A cigarette smolders, sets the mattress on fire and then the mattress erupts into flame.”

Twenty-year-old Ying Tang, a Centennial College student, and another woman, whose name has not been released by request of her family, died in the fire on Oct. 30. The second woman was identified as a Chinese student residing in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Yuanjie Guan, 22, remains in critical condition suffering from severe burns.

On the day of the fire, crews arrived on scene after dispatchers received a call from a concerned neighbour who saw smoke clouds coming from the home.

They found Guan standing on the front lawn with burns to his feet, legs, arms and head. He was taken to Sunnybrook hospital where he was placed in an induced coma with burns to 60 per cent of his body.

Damage to the home is estimated at $400,000, said Fire Capt. Mike Strapko.

“It’s a complete loss,” said Guillermo Arenis from State Farm Insurance. “Actually the entire house is going to be gutted out.”

He says it’s difficult to assess the exact cost of damages at this point because the students’ possessions are not covered under the homeowner.

It will be a long while before the house is in livable condition again, Arenis said.

“It might take about eight months to a year,” he said. “[The house] has to be gutted out and then you have to get permits in order to rebuild it.”

Tang and Guan rented rooms in the home owned by Tang’s aunt.

Centennial’s communications officer Mark Toljagic described Tang as a well-liked student who worked hard in her hospitality courses.

“She was an excellent student who enjoyed cooking and socializing with friends,” he said. “Ying will be sorely missed here at the college.”

Centennial is planning a memorial for Tang, Toljagic said, though the timing is unclear.

“Anything we plan will have to be consented by her parents,” he said. “Because they are travelling internationally, they have to be granted special visas and the process can be quite complicated.”