Volume 92, Issue 57

Friday, January 8, 1999

the roof is on fire


Advice going east

Fire sparks safety reminders

Ontario boosts research projects through matching grant

Bizarre tragedy hits Bishop's

Crime stepped back during patrol's 10 years


Caught on campus

Fire sparks safety reminders

By Lindsay Isaac
Gazette Staff

A household fire early yesterday morning at 1B McDonald Ave., the home of several Western students, has brought attention to the issue of fire safety in student housing.

The fire occurred around midnight on Jan. 7 in the bedroom of Christine Hohendorf, a second-year kinesiology student.

Hohendorf was burning a candle on a notepad in her bedroom when the candle burned down the wick and set the notepad on fire. A piece of the notepad then flew to the carpet which caught on fire. The fire spread to the dust ruffle of her bed, causing the mattress to ignite.

"The fire started in under a minute," Hohendorf said. "I left my room to go upstairs and rewind a movie and my roommates and I heard the smoke alarms go off."

Before the fire department arrived, Hohendorf tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out with water. "We were unable to put the fire out since it was mainly under the bed and on the walls," she said.

Hohendorf estimates the damages to her personal belongings to be around $1,500. She added fire damages occurred to her bed and desk, melting her electronic equipment and smoldering some of her clothes.

Mike Scratch, a firefighter with the London Fire Department who responded to the blaze, said structural damages were mostly smoke related.

"These accidental household fires are common, especially among students," Scratch said. "Precautions have to be taken to avoid exposure to the toxic fumes and odours."

Scratch suggested students exercise caution with open flames. "A flame such as a candle left unattended could easily turn into a fire," he said. "The students living on McDonald Ave. were lucky that they had a smoke detector, as a fire can smolder for hours before enough heat is generated to cause the fire to spread."

Mark Vansteenkiste, Western's fire prevention officer, said students need to be more aware of fire safety when living off campus. "There are no rules off campus and houses are not made out of the non-combustible construction that campus buildings are."

Students are advised to install smoke detectors on each level of the house, at the top of all the stairways, between the sleeping area and the rest of the house, Vansteenkiste said. He added multi-purpose fire extinguishers are best to have on hand.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999