Firefighters evacuated a south London apartment building after a Christmas gift left on a stovetop caught fire Thursday afternoon (Dec. 19).

Emergency crews responded to an apartment fire on Westlake Ave. off Baseline Road shortly after 1 p.m.

According to London Fire Department spokesperson Rick Jefferson, residents of all the units with the exception of the apartment where the fire originated were allowed to return to their units later in the afternoon.

He said that apartment was heavily damaged after the male tenant placed a Christmas gift on the stove and one of the burners was “inadvertently” turned on, catching the gift on fire.

The tenant then “complicated” things by leaving his apartment door open and trying to fight the fire with a household extinguisher.

According to Jefferson, all that did was feed the fire oxygen and allow the smoke to spread throughout the building, putting his neighbours in danger.

He said this fire was a perfect example of how the holidays are the busiest time of year for firefighters, and London residents can help keep each other safe by being fire smart.

“Extinguishers are only for very small fires,” Jefferson said. “What we want people to do is get out and close the door, which will contain the fire and the smoke to that unit, and call 911.”

He said damage is estimated at $100,000 but no one was injured, not even the man who tried to extinguish it, who was examined by paramedics at the scene and released.

 

That could have been a different story in a matter of seconds according to first-floor resident Danielle Speare, who watches her upstairs neighbour Stephanie’s dog, Lily, when she’s at work.

That was the case when the fire broke out, so Speare ran upstairs to rescue the three-year-old Labrador retriever. “If (I) didn’t have a key, we might not have made it in time,” Speare said, standing in a driveway across the street from the front of the building.

When she got to the apartment, down the hall from where the fire started, the thick rubber-smelling smoke was almost unbearable.

“I was holding my breath from the time I got into the apartment, put Lily on the leash, closed the door and tried to lock it,” she said. “She’s pretty freaked out right now, she’s reverted to puppy mentality.”

Third-floor resident Hani returned to the building just as firefighters were pulling his 10-month-old puppy Bailey from his third-storey window at around 1:30 p.m.

“I don’t know what happened, I just showed up,” he said. “All I know is my dog smells like smoke.”

via London Community News