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Carelessness fans flames in rise of kitchen fires, says Vancouver Island deputy chief

One person sent to hospital in Bear Mountain fire
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Langford Fire Rescue responded to a fire on Skirt Mountain on July 2. (Black Press Media file photo)

A Vancouver Island deputy fire chief is warning residents about the risks of inattentiveness in the kitchen after a fire in a Greater Victoria apartment building.

Langford’s acting Assistant Chief Simon Chadwick said there’s been a spate of kitchen fires recently and the issue has become a concern for the department.

Fire crews responded to calls around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday (July 2) about large amounts of smoke coming from a Bear Mountain condo.

The sprinkler system kicked in, helping put out the fire. Six neighbouring units experienced water damage due to the sprinkler system, but Chadwick said those people were able to return to their homes.

The sole occupant of the unit the fire originated in was taken to hospital. Chadwick didn’t have more information on their condition.

While the incident is still being investigated, Chadwick said the fire was caused after the occupant left the stove on while a plastic cooler was sitting on the stovetop. The plastic cooler melted and then the fire spread.

“Because it’s a flat surface, people have been using stovetops to store things on,” he said.

The fire was worsened by the fact there was no smoke alarm in the unit.

“We’ve got to get a grip on this, it’s just carelessness and people need to be more diligent.”

Chadwick said people should set a timer when they’re cooking and check appliances before they leave the house. He also emphasized the importance of having a working smoke detector.

As previously reported by Black Press Media, the Office of the Fire Commissioner released its annual report last month, which showed 59 people died in fires throughout the province in 2021, an increase of seven deaths over 2020 and 32 over 2019.

Thirty-six of the 2021 deaths occurred in residential structure fires with no working smoke alarm in more than half (58 per cent) of those homes.

Langford Fire Rescue offers free smoke alarm inspections and can give away batteries and temporary fire alarms for residents who don’t have an alarm or who have one that isn’t working. To arrange an inspection, contact the department at firesmart@langford.ca, or email Chadwick directly at schadwick@langford.ca.

READ MORE: As fire deaths trend up, Langford Fire Rescue stresses importance of working smoke detectors


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bailey.moreton@goldstreamgazette.com

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