Fire Causes $75,000 Damage to Cambridge Townhouse ...

CAMBRIDGE - A fire in a Cambridge townhouse Wednesday morning is suspected to have occurred because of an extension cord and a covered space heater, says the Cambridge fire platoon chief.

Three adults in the rental unit on Elgin Street North were unhurt in the 7:22 a.m. fire. The fire was contained to a second-floor bedroom. Damage is estimated at about $75,000.

Platoon Chief Martin Mills said the person living in the rental unit was using hydro from another unit across the laneway at the Max Saltsman Co-operative Housing Inc. complex.

The extension cord could be seen going from the bedroom window to the other unit, about 30 metres away. It is believed that the hydro had been cut off from the unit where the fire occurred for about a month.

Mills said the extension cord in the upper floor bedroom was covered in tape and the space heater was covered with clothes.

"We know the origin was in the bedroom," he said.

Mills said the space heater was buried under clothing and furniture.

"This time of the year, everyone is using extension cords and people tuck them under the carpet but they release heat," he said. "If using extension cords keep the clear and away from combustibles." Also, extension cords are meant to be used temporarily, he added.

The extensions cords, covered in painter's tape, could be seen on the front lawn.

Fire prevention officer Eric Robinson said that when fire crews arrived on the scene they hit the extension cord that was hanging from tree limbs as it went from one unit to the other.

Robinson said it was unclear how many people lived in the rental unit. Firefighters were able to quickly contain the fire to the bedroom within 10 minutes but there was smoke damage to the rest of the unit.

Neighbouring units were not damaged.

Mike Watson, a friend of the woman who lived in the unit, said he was walking by the complex just after 7 a.m. People were yelling fire and he went in to help.

He tried to grab a garden hose but it was frozen.

"I was filling up buckets of water from the kitchen and taking it upstairs," he said.

"It was hard to see. It was really smoky. We were choking," said Watson, who had black soot on his face from the fire.

Grand River Transit arrived to keep residents warm while they were temporarily evacuated from their units. The woman from the unit where the fire occurred is being assisted by Canadian Red Cross.

Mills said the woman will not be able to return to the unit because of the damage.

Twitter: @MonteiroRecord

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