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Careless smoking cause of apartment fire

Careless smoking was the cause of a devastating fire on Ritson Road South, according to Oshawa Fire Services.

Oshawa Fire is warning of the dangers of careless smoking following the apartment building fire at 1420 Ritson Rd. S. around 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 3. More than 60 community members were displaced from their homes.

Fire crews and fire responders arrived to find flames breaching the roof of the apartment building, from a third floor window. Firefighters rescued many residents, two of which were sent to hospital.

Community members impacted by the fire were offered DRT shuttle service to a temporary shelter set up at the South Oshawa Community Centre by the city and region’s department of social services and housing.

“We are grateful that everyone is safe thanks to the heroic efforts of our Oshawa Fire Services members,” says 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.”

Oshawa Fire says approximately 76 per cent of all fires in Oshawa occur in a residence.

“Oshawa Fire Services personnel did an outstanding job at a fire event, where the outcome could have been much worse,” says 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.”

Smokers’ materials have caused 32 fires in Oshawa since 2017.

According to the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, careless smoking is the leading cause of fire injuries and fire fatalities and the fourth leading cause of preventable home fires in Ontario.

Oshawa Fire says anyone who smokes or lives with someone who smokes should smoke outside whenever possible, and never smoke in bed when feeling drowsy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

They say never to smoke while using assisted oxygen devices, and to dispose of smoking materials properly – use sturdy, deep ashtrays and make sure cigarette butts and ashes are fully out.

Never discard of smoking material in garbage, potted flowerpots or beds, recycling or other plastic containers.

Oshawa Fire says 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.

Finally, keep matches, lighters and smoking materials out of the reach of children – up high and preferably locked up and never unattended.

Oshawa Fire says it’s also important to ensure there are working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the home.

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.

Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and replaced if they are more than 10 years old. It is also important that everyone is the home knows what to do should a smoke alarm sound.

They say it’s important to have a family escape plan, complete with a meeting place, and practice it regularly.