Highrise apartment fire caused by smoking

An apartment fire that shut down part of Main Street Tuesday night was caused by "careless disposal of smoking materials," fire officials say.
Smoke can be seen from the balcony of a 16th floor apartment. No one was injured in the fire. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

A high rise apartment fire that shut down part of Main Street Tuesday night was caused by "careless disposal of smoking materials," fire officials say.

The next thing you know, my whole apartment's on fire.- Samir Sidahmad

Firefighters were first called to 100 Main Street East around 6:10 p.m. The first crews on scene found heavy smoke in the hallways and flames that were destroying an apartment on the 16th floor. That's when the alarm was automatically upgraded to bring in more crews. There were 12 units sent to the scene in total.

Samir Sidahmad's apartment was the one that was burning. When he ran out Tuesday evening, he didn't even have time to grab his shoes.

“I didn't even come out with my slippers. I had to get my neighbour to give me slippers,” he said. “I was on the computer and whatnot, and the next thing you know my whole apartment's on fire.”

No one was injured in the fire, fire safety officer Bob Simpson says. Most of the damage was confined to Sidahmad's apartment on the 16th floor, with some minor smoke and water damage to the adjacent units. Damage is estimated at $60,000. Though officials determined the fire was started by someone smoking, "we don't know if it was the person in the unit or something discarded from above," Simpson said, adding that it would likely be impossible to ever figure that out.

Sidahmad says though he does smoke, he always discards his cigarettes in an ashtray.

The building is Hamilton's tallest, at 43 stories, and is known by many by its original name as the Century 21 building.

“Any highrise building has its own unique challenges, said Simpson. "This one here because of the smoke in the hallway and a high heat fire within the apartment unit were the initial difficulties firefighting crews faced.”

Sidahmad says he counts himself as lucky for getting out of the building on his own. “I ran right through my kitchen – I looked at my stove just to make sure that I didn't leave anything on by accident – and just ran out,” he said. “I was scared, because I have kids. Luckily for me they were up the Mountain at my mom's house.”

Simpson says the fire isn't being treated as suspicious. Police closed Main Street East off at John Street, but opened it again a couple of hours later.