‘They lived a good life’: Family of 5 killed in Brampton, Ont., fire remembers
Two weeks ago, Luis Felipa congratulated his daughter for changing her life.
Raven Alisha Ali-O’Dea had been a rebellious teenager, he explained, but had grown into a grown, responsible woman.
“(I said) ‘Raven, you know, I’m so proud of you, how you’ve changed your life.’
“Her cheeks were both rosy. She says, ‘Daddy, you make me blush’, because normally I don’t just give compliments like that.
“I’m so glad I told her,” Felipa recalls, her voice shaking.
Those were his last words to her.
Ali-O’Dea, 29, her husband Nazir Ali, 28, and their children – Layla Rose Ali-O’Dea, seven, Jayden Prince Ali-O’Dea, eight, and 10-year-old Alia Marilyn Ali-O’Dea – died early Monday morning after a fire engulfed their home in Brampton, Ontario.
Felipa’s ex-wife and Raven Alisha Ali-O’Dea’s mother, Bonnie O’Dea, who lived with the family, was taken to a trauma center in critical condition. Two tenants living in the basement of the house were able to evacuate without injuring themselves.
Felipa has barely been able to sleep since, as he tried to figure out what was wrong.
“They lived six years in there with no problem,” he said.
Felipa said her daughter and son-in-law bought the house last year from the landlord they were renting to on the fly because the landlord cared about her daughter. He said his father then gave him money to renovate.
Ali-O’Dea and Ali decided to renovate the entire house, hiring a crew to replace the floors, stove, lights and paint. The renovations were completed two months ago.
The cause, origin and circumstances of the fire are under investigation.
Felipa said he wondered if the renovations had something to do with the fire – were the smoke alarms put back in place after the painters removed them? But he said he was done speculating because it was “killing” him.
He is now eagerly awaiting the results of the investigation by the Office of the Fire Marshal, Peel Regional Police and Brampton Fire and Emergency Services.
Felipa said her daughter worked long hours at a landscaping company, starting her day at 4 a.m., working until around noon, picking up the children from school in the afternoon and returning to work until 8 p.m. He said Ali worked as a delivery man. driver and that he loved him like his own son, describing him as a loving father.
The dead parents were high school sweethearts
The two were high school sweethearts. They worked hard to give their children the best life possible, Felipa said, often taking them to Niagara Falls, Ont., where they enjoyed visiting an indoor water park, buying them lots of clothes and toys, and always keeping their refrigerators on hand. filled so they would never go hungry.
“They were very, very nice to them,” Felipa said. “Everything they wanted, they got.”
Before the pandemic hit, Felipa took her grandchildren to Canada’s wonderland every year. A few days before the fire, he told his grandson Jayden that they would be returning this summer to make up for not being able to go the previous two years.
“It was a ritual,” he said.
Felipa said Jayden was “so excited” about the plan to go to Wonderland again because the “adventurous” kid who was “full of adrenaline” had grown up since their last trip in 2019 and hoped to ride on more biggest roller coaster.
He described Layla as an “exuberant”, “strong” and “determined” little girl.
Alia, whose middle name Marilyn was given in honor of Felipa’s late daughter, loved to sing and dance. Felipa said he had a photo of himself with Alia as his phone wallpaper for a long time and he had no plans to change it.
“I’m so happy that the short life they lived, … they lived a good life,” he said.
Following the Ali-O’Dea House fire, Ontario Fire Marshal Jon Pegg and Brampton Fire Chief Bill Boyes advised residents to make sure they have fire alarms smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and an evacuation plan.
Boyes said firefighters and fire prevention officers checked homes in the area earlier this week and found some of them did not have working smoke detectors.
“We can’t see more people in the province of Ontario and the city of Brampton perish in a fire,” Boyes told reporters outside the burned home on Tuesday. “It’s completely unacceptable and it’s completely avoidable.”
Grandfather will become a fire prevention advocate
Felipa said his goal now is to become an advocate on the issue of fire prevention, noting that he plans to speak to officials from the City of Brampton and the Government of Ontario about the enactment of a law or an extent that firefighters can visit homes at least once a year to make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
He also plans to use all the money raised through a fundraiser and memorial event to be held May 21 in Brampton to purchase smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to donate to local firefighters for distribute to residents who cannot afford them.
“I don’t want nobody, nobody going through what I’m going through,” he said in tears. “It’s a terrible thing to go through.”
A funeral was held for the Ali-O’Dea family Saturday morning at Jame Masjid in Mississauga, Ont. It was open to the public.
At the cemetery later, Iqbal Vazir, Nazir’s uncle, said the family members supported each other all week.
“Everyone is very sad. And since Monday we’ve been together all the time, consoling each other,” he said. “Our belief and our religion is that they have gone to a better place and they are in heaven and they are at peace now.”