Cause of Mill Woods house fire remains under investigation, damages estimated at $200,000

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The cause of a house fire in Edmonton’s southeast Wednesday afternoon that sent five people to hospital remains under investigation.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) was called to the Mill Woods home in the area of 18 Avenue and 35 Street around 4:10 p.m. to multiple reports of a house fire.

A total of seven crews, with approximately 30 firefighters, attended the scene. The fire was brought under control just past 5 p.m. and declared out just before 8 p.m.

Four children and their father were rescued from the home and transported to hospital by emergency medical services. The children suffered from minor smoke inhalation while the father is in critical condition.

Damage from the fire was confined to the main floor, with smoke damage throughout the home. The damage is estimated to be at $200,000, broken down as $180,000 to the structure and $20,000 to its contents. The cause remains under investigation.

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EFRS is reminding Edmontonians to install smoke alarms in every sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Alarms should be tested at least once a month and residents know the sound of the smoke alarm and what to do in the event of a fire.

A fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of every room should also be implemented.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services announced  Thursday it is partnering with local garden centres to educate people on safely disposing cigarettes instead of in potted plants.

Edmontonians who smoke are urged to dispose cigarettes in deep, non-combustible ashtrays. Plant pots contain potting soil, peat moss and other types of soil which are combustible.

“There is a misconception that plant pots and soil can be used to extinguish cigarettes. This is not true. Potting soil contains large amounts of combustible material that can allow embers to smoulder before igniting into flames,” said Dennis Friedel, acting fire marshal with EFRS in a news release. “Smoking materials and potting soil just don’t go together.”

Local garden centres, The Root Seller, Mill Creek Nursery, and Kuhlmann’s Greenhouse Garden Market, will display signs in their stores and in planter pots reminding customers on how to dispose of cigarettes safely. In the summer, fire prevention officers will also attend the centres to talk about smoking and fire safety.

According to EFRS, the majority of fires related to smoking materials are caused by cigarettes disposed in potting soil on balconies, decks, and entryways. Between 2018 and 2020, there were 205 fires related to smoking materials resulting in $33.6 million in fire damage, 31 injuries and five deaths.

“The foolproof method to fully extinguishing smoking materials is to use water,” said Friedel. “Water should be kept nearby to wet cigarette butts and ashes to ensure embers are out before you discard into your non-combustible ashtray.”

ajunker@postmedia.com

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