Toronto Star

Jan. 9, 07:04 EDT

Mother faces arson charge in blaze that injured sons

Mississauga condo fire set in `reckless manner,' police say

Bob Mitchell
Toronto Star

Ron Bull/toronto star
CRIME SCENE: Burned bicycles remain at a Mississauga condo destroyed by a Jan. 7, 2002, fire that sent two boys to hospital.
A 37-year-old Mississauga mother remains in custody after being charged with arson in connection with a fire that sent two of her three young children to hospital.

The woman appeared briefly in a Brampton courtroom yesterday but was remanded until Friday for her expected bail hearing.

Peel Region police say the Monday morning fire was started in a "reckless manner," but won't go so far as to say the blaze that destroyed the first-floor, three-bedroom condominium was deliberately set.

The accused, who The Star is not identifying because children are involved, managed to rescue her 9-year-old daughter. But the fire was too intense for her to reach her two boys, aged 6 and 5, said the sister of the accused.

The boys' father kicked the window in when he arrived, while his sons were still inside, she said.

"We think the boys were hiding under the bed," she said.

The 5-year-old boy was burned on a hand and leg, while the 6-year-old suffered a bump on his head as well as serious smoke inhalation.

"Thank God they're now out of intensive care, though," she said. "But everything is gone. Their home is gone. Their furniture is gone. Their clothes are gone.

"They are all beautiful and energetic kids."

She said her 9-year-old niece was standing shivering and frightened on the balcony when her stepfather arrived.

"She escaped with only her underwear and T-shirt," the woman said. "My sister managed to pull her through her bedroom window but she couldn't get in to get her other two children. My niece was sleeping and my sister had to bang on her window to wake her up.

"My sister was hysterical. She couldn't get in."

The woman said her sister's husband lifted a neighbour through the window to rescue one of the boys.

"One of my nephews had already been rescued, and the firefighters didn't know there was still another boy inside," she said.

The children's grandmother said the boys will recover.

"One still has breathing problems, but thank God their father was there to get them out," said the 60-year-old woman. "He pushed that lady through the window and she came out with my (grandson)."

Police say the fire started about 2:45 a.m. Monday in the condominium, in the Dundas St. W. and Hurontario St. area.

The accused faces two counts of arson with disregard for human life causing bodily harm and one count of arson with disregard for human life.

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