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Coroner's inquest called into Orillia, Ont., nursing home fire that claimed 4 lives

TORONTO – The deaths of four people in a fire at a central Ontario retirement home will come under the scrutiny of a coroner’s inquest.

The January 2009 blaze at the Muskoka Heights Retirement Residence in Orillia, Ont., left six other elderly residents of the privately run home critically injured.

The facility did not have a sprinkler system, and fire officials called the deaths needless.

Ontario’s chief coroner announced the inquest today, saying it will focus on fire safety in retirement homes.

Details about the date and location of the inquest are to be released at a later date.

Vera Blain, Genneth Dyment, Hugh Fleming and Robert McLean died after fire broke out at the residence shortly after 6 a.m.

In October, the retirement home corporation and the retirement home administrator were convicted of violating the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

The corporation was fined $62,500 and the administrator was fined $18,750 for failing to ensure supervisory staff were instructed in fire emergency procedures and for failing to conduct fire drills for supervisory staff.

Witnesses said a nurse on duty at the home said she first noticed the fire in a medicine room after she came back downstairs from helping a resident shower and ran across the street to get help.

Several other neighbourhood residents rushed over to the scene to help, with some taking the seniors into their homes for shelter.

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