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Balcony fires, sparked by cigarette butts, on the rise in Toronto

Last Updated Jun 7, 2017 at 11:25 am EDT

A cigarette was tossed onto a downtown balcony from a unit above on June 6, 2016. The cigarette landed on patio furniture. CITYNEWS

Balcony fires are on the rise in Toronto, with 27 so far this year, and all of them have been caused by people tossing cigarettes down from a higher balcony.

Last year, there were 25 balcony fires that were caused by cigarette butts, Toronto Fire said.

The most recent fire was at 245 Dunn Ave., a TCH building. Not only did it affect one unit, the next-door apartment had to be evacuated. A woman in a wheelchair had to be rescued by firefighters.

A charred balcony can be seen at an apartment building on Dunn Avenue after a fire on June 5, 2017. CITYNEWS

The increase in balcony fires is startling, but it’s nothing new: the massive fire at 200 Wellesley St. in 2010 was also sparked by a tossed cigarette. That fire, in Canada’s largest social housing building, forced the evacuation of 1,700 residents in 750 units – many of whom had special needs and no place to stay.

Toronto fire offered several tips for people who do smoke on their balconies:

  • Use a sturdy ashtray with a wide, stable base or a can filled with sand to collect ashes.
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away.
  • Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash.
  • Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast.
  • Don’t put ash trays on them.
  • If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
  • If you are drowsy or falling asleep, put it out.
  • Never smoke in bed.

Related stories:

Cigarette butt sparked fire at 200 Wellesley: fire marshal

Discarded cigarette butt to blame in downtown rooftop deck fire

7 safety tips to prevent home fires