With physical distancing becoming the new normal these past couple of months, the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office says the number of house fires has gone up.
Officials say it’s not clear how many house fires have been started because of cooking, but it is one of the leading causes. However, for North Bay Fire and Emergency Services Chief Jason Whiteley, there are some simple tricks to avoiding those scenarios.
“Never leave the stove unattended, especially if you are cooking with oils,” he explained. “Don’t cook while intoxicated, stuff like that is where we usually see it. What we have seen in southern Ontario, especially the City of Toronto, they’ve had a 17 per cent increase in working fire calls. The theory is in the province is the amount of people at home who are cooking more.”
As for in the North Bay area, Whiteley says it’s been pretty consistent with past years.
“We’re probably on par for what we’ve been doing for fires,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of small fires like dryer fires, and then in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had the two bigger fires. That’s kind of on par for what we run annually if you were to look at our statistics.”
“We haven’t seen a big increase,” Whiteley added. “We are watching our statistics and looking to see where the fires are, or if they’re cooking fires. In other cities, like Sudbury, it seems like their call volume is raised a little.”
Whiteley also offered some advice for those who may be affected by fires in apartment buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you get alarm bells and evacuated, remember to social distance,” he said. “Please totally evacuate the building and not congregate in the lobby. That protects the safety of the first responders as well as themselves and their neighbours.”