A landlord has been charged for fire code violations after a mother and child escaped a basement fire in Halton Hills without serious injury.
Emergency crews were sent to a home along Regional Road 25 on Oct. 20, finding a single-storey home ablaze.
The woman had attempted to extinguish the fire and firefighters went in, finding heavy smoke conditions.
They were hampered from reaching the seat of the fire by the excessive amount of combustible material stored in the basement area.
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Crews eventually knocked it down, ensured there was no further extension of the fire, then conducted ventilation procedures to clear smoke from the building.
Firefighters say there were no smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in the house.
“Working smoke alarms are required on every floor of the home and near the bedrooms, and CO alarms are required near the sleeping area where there is a fuel fired appliance in the home or has an attached garage,” said Fire Chief John deHooge.
“In the case where a landlord is involved it is their responsibility to provide and maintain these devices. It’s the law.”
Halton paramedics treated the mother for smoke inhalation and minor burns to her hands.
She declined to go to hospital.
The family was “very fortunate that the mother had been up at the time of the fire and went to investigate a whiff of smoke from the basement stairwell,” says the fire department.
“If they been asleep (with no early notification by a smoke or CO alarm), the residents would surely have succumbed to the fire.”
Prior to leaving the scene, new smoke and CO alarms were installed by firefighters.
Damage was estimated at under $5,000.
Investigation revealed the fire started in a plastic basket located near a freezer. Placed on the basket were the connection ends of the extension cords where scene reconstruction found that the fire started as the result of improper use and overloading of extension cords, which powered the freezer causing the connections to overheat and start the fire.
Since the fire, the homeowner has considerably diminished the amount of combustible storage in the home and electricians have been on site to correct electrical deficiencies and upgrade the service so that extension cord use is minimized and system is safe.
“This incident really hit home for me,” said Mayor Rick Bonnette.
“I have de-cluttered my house and checked my electrical cords too. I’ll be adding these tasks to my to-do list when I change the batteries in my smoke and CO alarms.”
At the conclusion of the fire investigation the landlord was issued two tickets for failing to maintain smoke alarms and for failure to maintain CO alarms, which carry a fine of $360 each.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring their rental units contain the appropriate smoke and CO alarms, and that they are maintained in working order for the safety of tenants.
Residents or landlords requiring assistance with the requirements of smoke and CO alarms can call the fire department’s prevention division at 905-877-1133.