Acting Fire Chief issues safety reminders following holiday weekend fires

St. Catharines Fire Department CrestCity of St. Catharines press release –  Acting Fire Chief Jeff McCormick is reminding parents to educate their children about the dangers of playing with matches and lighters, following a garage fire in St. Catharines on Monday.

St. Catharines firefighters were called to a Division Street property at about 1:53 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 5/2019, after reports of a structure fire. Crews arrived to discover a fully involved garage fire with flames visible from the exterior.

Crews made an aggressive attack on the fire to minimize the damage, aiming to prevent the fire from spreading to any adjacent structures.

There were no injuries, but the damage was estimated at $25,000 with the garage destroyed and some damage to a neighbouring home.

Fire prevention officials conducted an investigation and attributed the cause to children playing with fire-starting materials.

Chief McCormick is urging parents to talk about the dangers of fire with their children, and explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults to use carefully not toys to be played with.

“Teach children at a young age that if they see matches or lighters, they should not touch them,” said the fire chief. “Store fire-starting materials out of children’s reach and instruct them that any act of fire setting is dangerous and can have devastating consequences.”

McCormick adds that parents who are concerned about their child’s fascination with fire, or who have noticed their child setting fires, should contact the Fire Prevention Office at 905.688.5601 ext. 4224 for information about The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C) in Niagara.

“Fire-setting behaviours need to be treated very seriously. Some children may not recognize the risk in fire play of not only property damage, but the potential of injuries and death,” the fire chief said. “TAPP-C is a free service that addresses these behaviours and supports children and their families.”

St. Catharines firefighters also responded to reports of a garage fire at 2:07 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6/2019. Crews responded to 24 Shakespeare St. and arrived to find the garage fully involved.

The fire was challenging to extinguish due to the amount of combustible content inside the garage. Firefighters had to call in a City backhoe to assist in moving the combustible products to get the fire under control.

There were no injuries and damage is estimated at about $30,000.

The Fire Prevention Office conducted an investigation, but due to the difficulty in gaining access to the area of the fire, and concerns of the structural integrity of the garage, the cause has not been determined.

Acting Fire Chief McCormick reminds residents to ensure they keep storage of combustibles to a minimum in their homes or garages, and to always ensure that exits and walkways are not blocked to ensure they can escape in the event of a fire. Combustibles should also be kept away from any heat source.

“We want residents to take storage of combustible and flammable materials seriously. Whether it’s proper handling and storage, or eliminating clutter and ensuring there is not an accumulation of combustibles, reduce the risk,” said McCormick. “A fire can start in a garage and spread quickly to your home – even if it’s not attached – if you are not careful.”

Visit www.stcatharines.ca/SafeAtHome for more home and fire safety tips

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