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.
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.