Close call with electrical fire is an important Holiday safety reminder

By Markus Marshall

Robin Leckie wants her experience with a recent electrical fire to encourage other Old Ottawa East residents to be more prepared for emergencies.

Leckie’s story is a situation that happens everyday in most homes; she was cooking. She heard a loud pop and a sizzling sound from her electric oven. She smelled smoke, but nothing was burning inside the oven.

“My partner pulled the range away from the wall and saw that flames were coming out from the back of the appliance, through the metal vents. I got the fire extinguisher that was in the basement and he used it to try to put the fire out. When that didn’t work, he went to the basement to shut the power to the range at the electrical panel. When he tried the extinguisher again, it put the fire out. As it turned out, it was an electrical fire within the circuitry in the back panel. We were very lucky.”

Over the past year-and-a-half, Old Ottawa East has witnessed several residential fires resulting in the loss of homes, personal belongings and a feeling of safety. While Leckie’s damage was limited to some charred paint on the wall, she hopes she can help prevent a dangerous situation like this happening again to them and to others.

Have a fire extinguisher nearby at all times, Leckie warns. “Ours wasn’t very far, but it should have been right in the kitchen, by the range. We now have one on every floor.”

Leckie also warns her neighbours to “know when to try to put out a fire and when to just leave the house for your own safety and call 911.”

As the season turns colder and holiday celebrations pick up the pace, the Mainstreeter wants to leave reader with a few more safety ideas from Fire Prevention Canada.

Candles are one of the major causes of fires especially heading into the winter season. Candles often bring a warmth and ambiance to a home, but the open flame of a candle can burn at up to 1,400 °C. This can cause intense damage if candles are left unattended or close to flammable items. Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep; take care with candle placement by leaving them far away from any objects or decorations; and keep candles in good quality holders that won’t tip over or collect wax.

Cooking is an everyday event year-round, but in the holiday season family and friends come around, families have bigger gatherings and often find themselves cooking for more people. This means the chances of kitchen fires start to increase. As well as Leckie’s suggestion to keep a fire extinguisher close to the stove, take some time now to clean the oven as grease and food splatters can ignite at high temperatures.

Fire alarms are made to alert the threat of a fire before it’s too late. Make sure there’s a fire alarm on every floor of the home and that the batteries are working. Conduct regular checks of a fire alarm to make sure it’s still working (the usual life of a fire alarm is 10 years, however some only last five). Don’t locate fire alarms near doors and windows. For best performance, an alarm should be mounted on the ceiling in or near the centre of the room, hall or stairway, and at the head of each stairway leading to an occupied area. Optimum location for wall mounts is at least 15 cm (6 inches) from the ceiling but not more than 30 cm (19 inches) from it.

For more information on fire prevention this winter check out

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Filed in: Features, FP, Front Page

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