Oshawa Fire Services is warning of the dangers of careless smoking following a significant apartment fire last weekend in Oshawa in which two people were sent to hospital and more than 60 community members were displaced from their homes.

Careless smoking was determined as a key factor in the cause of the fire which broke out just after 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 3 at 1420 Ritson Road South near Madawaska Drive in Oshawa.

Fire crews and first responders arrived to find flames breaching the roof of the apartment building, from a third-floor window. Firefighters rescued many residents, with two transported to the hospital.

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.

Approximately 76% of all fires in Oshawa occur in a residence. 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. Since 2017, smokers’ materials have caused 32 fires in Oshawa.

If you or someone you live with smokes, 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 the 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 story 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.