Careless smoking causes high rise apartment fire

St. Catharines Fire Department CrestCity of St. Catharines press release – Deputy Fire Chief Frank Biancucci urges smokers to make sure their cigarettes are completely extinguished after a recent high-rise apartment fire.

St. Catharines firefighters responded to reports of fire at 1:38 p.m. Saturday/June 8/2019 at 35 Towering Heights Blvd. On arrival, firefighters found smoke visible from a third-floor balcony and quickly extinguished the fire that had spread into the unit. Damage is estimated at $10,000 and was limited to the single unit and balcony with little impact to the rest of the building. The unit had working smoke alarms. No injuries were reported.

The deputy fire chief said the cause fire was attributed to improperly discarded smoking materials left smoldering for hours in an overfilled ashtray that ignited nearby plastic furnishings.

“This was not the typical situation we usually see at these kinds of fires,” said the deputy fire chief. “The balcony was neat and tidy. However, the cigarette appears to have not been fully extinguished. Combined with the ashtray being a little too full and with outdoor combustible furnishing, it provided an ignition source. That all lead to a fast-moving fire quickly spreading to inside the apartment.”

The deputy fire chief advises citizens to practice safe smoking to ensure that cigarettes and smoking materials are completely extinguished before being discarded. Ashtrays should be emptied into larger metal containers filled with sand or water before being placed in the trash. The deputy fire chief also urges residents living in apartment buildings to be familiar with the building’s posted fire safety procedures including how to exit in an emergency when the fire alarm sounds.

“A fire anywhere in the building will require an evacuation and everyone needs to know how to get to safely,” said the acting fire chief. “You need to be aware of the building’s fire safety plan, including the location of fire alarm pull stations and emergency exits.”

Anyone who would like more information about smoking safety and home escape planning can contact the Fire Prevention Office at 905.688.5601 ext. 4224.


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