ABOVE: Global’s Mark Carcasole brings us the latest details on the deadly overnight fire on Dovercourt Road
TORONTO – Two people are dead and two others are in critical condition following a residential fire in west-end Toronto overnight.
Fire officials received a 9-1-1 call just after 3 a.m. of smoke coming from an apartment on Dovercourt Road near Dupont Street.
Crews arrived to find four victims inside a second floor apartment and managed to pull them out.
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Toronto EMS say one person was pronounced dead at the scene while the three others were taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. One of those taken to hospital, a woman, succumbed to her injuries while in hospital Friday afternoon.
Toronto Fire Services say the fire started in the “common area” of the second floor apartment, which housed a business at street level.
Carson T. Foster lives on the other side of the wall from where the fire started and was woken up just after 3 a.m. by his fire alarm. At first he thought it was just a broken fire alarm but saw smoke when he went out into the hallway.
He woke up his wife and went out to the fire escape to leave. The window pane from the apartment above fell beside him, blown out by the fire, as he was climbing onto the fire escape.
“So I ran up the fire escape and was banging on the door and yelling in and I had heard, literally 60 seconds before, people scrambling around to get out,” he said. “And as I was yelling there was absolutely no response. And I realized that the people, anyone inside, would either be unconscious or dead.”
He could see fire trucks coming down the street at that point and thought he would only be creating more problems for the first-responders.
WATCH: Witness recounts terrifying moments as neighbour’s home goes up in flames
The genders of the victims are unknown at this time but officials say they were possibly in their 20s.
Toronto Fire Services say a firefighter was injured but remained on duty.
A cat was also found deceased at the scene of the fire.
DOVERCOURT RD- Correction #TorontoFire removed 4 people; 3 critical, 1 fatality. Fire Marshal will attend.
— Toronto Fire Service (@Toronto_Fire) March 7, 2014
DOVERCOURT RD- fire is out, 1 #TorontoFire Fighter injured and remains on duty, 1 cat deceased. Fire Marshal to determine cause
— Toronto Fire Service (@Toronto_Fire) March 7, 2014
There’s no word yet on the cause.
The Ontario Fire Marshal has been brought in to investigate.
-with a file from The Canadian Press
WATCH: Officials in Crimea are pushing ahead with a vote on whether to become a part of Russia in just nine days. It’s an enormous decision, but it appears there are few options for people to get solid facts about the situation. Some of the news media in the regions appears to have been taken over by Russia. Paul Johnson reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defends his decision to send his country’s soldiers to Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk’s plane checked after authorities receive terrorism threat
WASHINGTON – Underlying talk about taking harsh punitive measures against Russia for its military incursion into Ukraine are economic complications and worries that sanctions levied against Moscow could backfire on the U.S. and Europe.
Heavier U.S. and European Union sanctions could sting Russia’s already slow-growing economy and hurt its financial sector. But Moscow could retaliate and seize American and other foreign assets or cut exports of natural gas to Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russia for energy.
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Declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine, President Barack Obama on Thursday slapped new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine’s government in Kyiv and authorized wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. Obama emphasized his resolve in an hourlong telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, affirming his contention that Russia’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Ukrainian government looks to oligarchs for help
In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine’s new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help – appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong.
With their wealth, influence and self-interest in preventing further conflict, the oligarchs could be the key to calming tensions and maintaining Ukraine’s control in areas where pro-Russian activists have stoked separatist tensions.
But the decision to appoint the country’s richest men as regional administrators has its risks. Some believe the oligarchs, who have a history of manipulating governments, may become too entrenched in their new jobs and could use their posts for personal gain.
The unexpected move drew instant ire from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called one of the oligarchs, Ukraine’s third-richest man, Ihor Kolomoisky, a “swindler.”
“They name oligarchs, billionaires as governors of eastern regions,” Putin said during a news conference earlier this week. “Naturally, people don’t accept that.”
Putin defends Russian actions in Crimea
A defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin is defending his decision to send his country’s soldiers to Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
In a statement on the Kremlin’s website, Putin says he could not ignore requests for protection from southern and eastern Ukraine, where many people support Russia.
He’s also dismissing the fledgling government of Ukraine, saying it grew out of what he calls an “anti-constitutional coup.”
WATCH: The American destroyer USS Truxtun passed through the Bosphorus strait Friday, en route to the Black Sea
Obama’s warnings to Russia brushed aside by Putin
Obama’s warnings to Russia are being brushed aside by Putin, who appears to only be speeding up efforts to formally stake his claim to Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
In the week since Obama first declared there would be “costs” if Putin pressed into Crimea, Russian forces have taken control of the region and a referendum has been scheduled to decide its future. Obama declared the March 16 vote a violation of international law, but in a region where ethnic Russians are the majority, the referendum seems likely to become another barrier to White House efforts to compel Putin to pull his forces from Crimea.
WATCH: President Obama announces sanctions on Russia and other parties who are undermining Ukrainian government
“The referendum vote is going to serve for Putin, in his mind, as the credibility and legitimacy of Russia’s presence there,” said Andrew Kuchins, the director of the Russia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
If Crimea votes to join Russia, the referendum could also put Obama in the awkward position of opposing the outcome of a popular vote.
Yatsenyuk’s plane checked after authorities receive terrorism threat
Authorities say they received a threat that a terrorist attack was planned on a plane carrying Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk home after he had addressed European Union leaders in Brussels.
Austria’s Interior Ministry said Friday that after receiving a security warning from German flight controllers, SWAT teams boarded the Austrian Airlines flight after its scheduled landing in Vienna Thursday night. They found nothing out of the ordinary.
Canada won’t recognize Crimean referendum
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday Crimea is a region under “illegal military occupation” and that Canada will not recognize its forthcoming referendum on whether to join Russia.
Obama’s warnings to Russia
Obama’s warnings to Russia
Ukraine Crisis: Crimea to hold referendum
Sanctions against Russia
No breakthrough in Ukraine crisis
Russia and US discuss ways to resolve Ukraine crisis
Harper described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an act of aggression and a clear violation both of Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law.
The prime minister says Canada continues to view the situation in Ukraine “with the gravest concern” and will co-operate with its G7 partners and like-minded allies.
©2014The Canadian Press
GOSPORT, England – Two lines of trenches face off across No Man’s Land. A soldier marches, rifle in hand, along a ditch. These are instantly familiar images of World War I – but this is Britain, a century on and an English Channel away from the battlefields of the Western Front.
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This overgrown and oddly corrugated patch of heathland on England’s south coast was once a practice battlefield, complete with trenches, weapons and barbed wire. Thousands of troops trained here to take on the German army. After the 1918 victory – which cost 1 million Britons their lives – the site was forgotten, until it was recently rediscovered by a local official with an interest in military history.
Now the trenches are being used to reveal how the Great War transformed Britain – physically as well as socially. As living memories of the conflict fade, historians hope these physical traces can help preserve the story of the war for future generations.
“We’ve now lost our First World War veterans. You’re not going to get a firsthand account,” said Richard Osgood, an archaeologist with the Ministry of Defence, which owns the land. “In many ways, the truest witness is the archaeology and the legacy left behind.”
The trenches, near the town of Gosport, about 80 miles (130 kilometres) south of London, were rediscovered a few months ago by Robert Harper, head of conservation at the local council. A military history buff, he noticed some crenellated lines on a 1950s aerial photograph of the area, and was startled to recognize the pattern of “the classic British trench system.”
He was even more surprised when he had a look at the land – a local picnic spot – and found the contours of the trenches still clearly visible under a thick covering of bracken, gorse and grass. He could make out a front-line trench and several reserve rows, along with communications trenches and forward observation posts. And then there was an opposing set, 300 yards (meters) away.
“It was one of those jaw-dropping moments,” Harper said.
“I’ve got five relatives buried on the Western Front. I think to myself, ‘Did any of them train here?”‘
Several other sets of practice trenches have been found in Britain, but this is easily the most extensive. Conservation body English Heritage, which announced the find Friday, said the task of mapping and documenting the site has just begun. There were no immediate plans to turn it into a tourist site or build a museum around it.
The discovery is already providing ammunition for those who reject the “lions led by donkeys” view of the war, which argues that incompetent officers led ill-prepared troops into needless slaughter.
Historian Dan Snow said the elaborate mock battlefield “shows how seriously they took the business of training.”
“They had to send the guys out to France to do the hardest of tasks, something no one had done before, and that is defeat the German army when they were dug in,” Snow said. “How to break that deadlock? Well, the answer is right here in front of us. Massive, massive preparation.”
The find is being used to launch a campaign, Home Front Legacy, which aims to record as many physical traces of the war as possible. Even though the four-year conflict was largely fought outside Britain, the war transformed the country’s landscape in ways that have often been forgotten.
It’s hoped amateur historians will comb family archives, local newspapers and other sources for evidence of everything from military bases and prisoner-of-war camps to munitions factories, pillboxes and listening posts.
“We’re going to crowd-source this project,” Snow said. “We’re going to build a picture across the U.K. of the physical remnants of the First World War.”
The project has the support of the defence ministry, which turns out to be keen on archaeology – perhaps unsurprisingly, since it owns 1 per cent of Britain – and enlists volunteer soldiers to help with exploration on its lands.
Osgood said the aim at the mock battlefield is “to repopulate the landscape,” to tell the stories of some of the troops who trained there. Soldiers from Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. all passed through this area, close to the major naval base of Portsmouth, on their way to the front.
It would only take the tiniest of objects, such as a lost cap badge, to provide a clue.
“These were real men in a real-life situation going out and sacrificing their lives,” Harper said. “That emotional, human story – I’d love that to be the meat put on the bones of what we have.”
©2014The Canadian Press
VICTORIA – Now that contract negotiations with British Columbia teachers have reached the next phase with an 89 per strike mandate, the education minister says he’s looking forward to seeing contract demands from the union.
Peter Fassbender said Friday government negotiators have been essentially negotiating with themselves because their offer is the only one on the table.
The minister said he wants talks to reach the stage where each side has the others’ proposals.
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“Until we get an offer and their full proposal from the BCTF, it’s very difficult to move anywhere — until you know where the other goal post is,” he said. “It’s kind of like looking down a football field without knowing where the goal post is at the other end.”
But B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said the union tabled its demands almost a year ago, asking for wage increases that include cost-of-living adjustments and salary catch-ups to other provinces. The contract demands also call for smaller class sizes and more specialist teachers.
“What we’re looking at in salary is a cost-of-living adjustment so we can keep up with the cost of inflation, and we want to have an important discussion with the employer in terms of comparability to our colleagues across Canada,” he said. “Our wages have fallen way behind compared to teachers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick. That’s the important discussion for us.”
Statistics Canada reports in 2010 that the minimum annual starting wage for a B.C. teacher was $41,963, while in Alberta, the same wage was $53,838 and the starting wage in Ontario was $42,030.
Iker said union negotiators continued bargaining Friday and are prepared to be at talks scheduled for next week.
“We look forward to having that (wage) discussion and tabling proposals back and forth at the bargaining table,” he said. “We also look forward to reaching a fair deal for teachers which includes better supports for our students. We want to see smaller class sizes for our students come September and more specialist teachers in the system.”
“I’m hoping that’s the back and forth we can have with the government,” said Iker.
In January, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the government’s move to strip class size and composition from the collective agreement was unconstitutional.
However, the government went back to court last month and received a temporary stay of the ruling.
Following the release of the strike vote late Thursday, Iker said no immediate job action was planned. He said earlier this week that part of the union’s negotiating strategy involves rotating strikes to provoke a settlement.
The initial government wage offer added up to 6.5 per cent over six years, followed by indexed increases.
Fassbender said the government remains committed to reaching a lengthy settlement with the teachers.
Premier Christy Clark has said she considers a 10-year contract a long-term deal, but the union immediately shot down that possibility.
The province’s 41,000 teachers have been without a contract since June 2013, and outstanding issues include wages, class sizes and class composition.
EDMONTON – Head coach Dallas Eakins needed to chew the Edmonton Oilers out after a painful first 40 minutes, and the tongue-lashing seemed to spur them on.
Taylor Hall scored the overtime winner as the Oilers rebounded from a listless start to earn a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the New York Islanders after trailing 2-0 after the second period on Thursday night.
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Oiler Sam Gagner stole the puck in the neutral zone and danced around defender Brian Strait before sending it on net, where Hall was able to slip it past goalie Evgeni Nabokov 2:29 into the overtime session.
“I had a very one-sided conversation with them,” Eakins said of the second period intermission. “I’d rather we didn’t wait until the last four minutes of the second period to get going. We have been preaching the way to play and it wasn’t until near the end of the second that we understood what we needed to do and we carried it on to the third.”
Gagner agreed that the teams needed a kick in the behind after their sorry start.
“We weren’t happy with the way we played the first two periods and we talked a lot about it in between the second and the third,” he said. “We started doing the things that make you successful in the third. We were getting pucks deep and forechecking and it was a big reason we were able to come away with the win.”
Ryan Smyth and Philip Larsen also scored for the Oilers (22-34-8), who have won two games in a row and are 7-2-2 in their last 11 games.
Frans Nielsen and Anders Lee responded for the Islanders (24-32-9), who have lost 10 of their last 13 games. The Islanders have also lost 10 games this season in which they led heading into the third period.
“I wish I had an answer for that,” said New York forward Michael Grabner. “We have to try and bare down. We had some chances on some two-on-ones that we didn’t take advantage of. We have to try and make it 3-0, and 4-0 and not just sit back.
“It’s been happening too much lately.”
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said his team simply can’t afford to let up late in a game.
“We made mistakes, we talk about this all the time,” he said. “You have to teach and you have to learn from it. At some point, they’re going to have to realize those little things, the moment you stop moving your feet or get out of position it’s going to cost you.”
New York started the scoring with a short-handed marker midway through the first period. Gagner coughed up the puck in the Islanders zone, allowing a two-on-one that saw Nielsen elect to shoot the puck himself, beating Oilers starting goalie Ben Scrivens top corner for his 19th goal of the season.
It was the 11th short-handed goal Edmonton has allowed this season.
New York made it 2-0 with a minute-and-a-half left in the opening frame as Lee was able to tip a Strait shot through Scrivens’ legs. It was the Islanders rookie’s fourth goal in just his five career NHL games.
The Islanders outshot Edmonton 13-4 in the first period.
Edmonton continued to have trouble getting quality scoring chances on Nabokov in the scoreless second period.
The Oilers had some shots late in the second to make the totals look better, but the shots still favoured New York 23-14 after 40 minutes.
Edmonton managed to avoid being shutout for the ninth time this season on a memorable power-play goal by Smyth.
Jordan Eberle made a nice feed to a hard-charging Smyth and he shovelled the puck past Nabokov. With the goal, he tied Glenn Anderson for the most power-play goals in Oilers franchise history with 126, one up on Wayne Gretzky who was at the game in advance of a team-sponsored breakfast on Friday morning.
“It’s an honour even to be mentioned with guys like Gretzky and Anderson,” Smyth said. “I played a lot longer than those guys, but they set the bar high and you want to try and match it. The way it all worked out, it was an emotional ride not knowing if I was staying or going at the trade deadline. To be here and to tie this record is awesome.”
Edmonton continued to buzz and managed to tie the game with just 3:07 left as Larsen picked the puck off the boards and went hard to the net before shooting the puck off the side of the post and in for his second of the season. Larsen has been battling dizzy spells since December and had only played in one of Edmonton’s previous 26 games.
Scrivens made a huge breakaway save on Grabner to send the game to extra time.
The Islanders get back to action right away, playing the third of a four-game road trip in Calgary on Friday. The Oilers are off until Sunday, when they conclude a five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Oilers lost a 3-2 decision in New York in their first match-up back on Oct. 17, however the Islanders have lost three straight in Edmonton, where they have not won since March of 2003… Both teams were looking a little different after Wednesday’s trade deadline as the Oilers dealt long-serving forward Ales Hemsky and defenceman Nick Schultz, while the Islanders traded away forward Tomas Vanek after less than a year on Long Island. Neither team got roster players back in return… With Schultz dealt to Columbus and Corey Potter picked up on waivers by Boston, defenceman Philip Larsen was called back up after being placed on the waiver wire a day earlier… Recently-acquired goalie Viktor Fasht arrived in Edmonton after being traded to the Oilers from Anaheim on Tuesday, but served as the backup to Scrivens… With Vanek traded and John Tavares (knee) sidelined for the season, the Islanders are now without two of their top three scorers this season. Also out for the game was forward Eric Boulton, who exited New York’s last game with a hand injury… Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry left the game after the first period with a back problem.