Careless smoking “key factor” in massive Oshawa apartment fire

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Published July 7, 2021 at 8:40 pm

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Careless smoking has been determined as a “key factor” in a huge fire on the weekend that destroyed a South Oshawa apartment building, displaced 60 residents and left one person in hospital with serious injuries.

Oshawa Fire Services made the careless smoking call today after an Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office investigation into the blaze that razed the building at 1420 Ritson Road South. The fire started Saturday morning and firefighters were still trying to extinguish the flames the following day.

Fire crews and first responders arrived last to find flames already breaching the roof of the apartment building. Firefighters rescued many residents, with two transported to hospital.

“We are grateful that everyone is safe thanks to the heroic efforts of our Oshawa Fire Services members,” said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were taken to hospital as well as the families who have lost their homes. Our appreciation goes out to everyone who has been working hard to support them.”

Community members impacted by the fire were offered shuttle service by Durham Regional Transit to a temporary shelter set up at the South Oshawa Community Centre by the City of Oshawa and the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Department of Social Services and Housing.

Several GoFundMe pages have been set up assist those who were displaced by the fire.

Oshawa Fire Services is warning of the dangers of careless smoking, noting that it is the leading cause of fire injuries and deaths and the fourth leading cause of preventable home fires in Ontario.

“Oshawa Fire Services personnel did an outstanding job at a fire event, where the outcome could have been much worse,” said Oshawa Fire Services Deputy Chief Stephen Barkwell. “Fires caused by careless smoking are 100 per cent preventable. If you or someone you live with smokes, we urge you to follow fire safety tips to prevent such a tragedy.”

Oshawa Fire Services urges you to follow these safety tips:

• Smoke outside whenever possible.
• Never smoke in bed or when you are feeling drowsy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• Never smoke while using assisted oxygen devices.
• Dispose of smoking materials properly. Use sturdy, deep ashtrays and make sure cigarette butts and ashes are fully out. Never discard your smoking material in garbage, potted flowerpots or beds, recycling or other plastic containers.
• It is best to dispose of cigarettes in a bucket of sand or water.
• Before going to sleep, check under and around sofa cushions and upholstered furniture for smoldering cigarettes.
• Keep matches, lighters and smoking materials out of the reach of children – up high and preferably locked up and never unattended.

• Ensure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. It is required by law that all landlords and homeowners have working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. Removing or tampering with smoke and carbon monoxide devices can result in fines of up to $50,000 for an individual and/or one-year imprisonment.

• Mark your calendar to remember to test smoke alarms monthly and replace them if they are more than 10 years old. It is also important that everyone in your home knows what to do should a smoke alarm sound. Be sure that your family has an escape plan, complete with a meeting place, and practice it regularly.

For more information on Oshawa Fire Services and fire prevention, visit www.oshawa.ca/fire or follow @OshawaFire on Twitter

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