Ottawa

2020 a deadly year for fires in Ottawa

Nine people have died due to fires this year in Ottawa, making 2020 the deadliest year for fires since amalgamation nearly two decades ago.

9 fatalities make this the deadliest year since amalgamation

Fire crews douse flames at a building under construction in Vanier in October. 2020 has been the deadliest year for fires in Ottawa since amalgamation in 2001. (Scott Stillborn/Ottawa Fire Services)

Nine people have died due to fires this year in Ottawa, making 2020 the deadliest year for fires since amalgamation nearly two decades ago.

The most recent death was recorded on Monday, when a 42-year-old man was pronounced dead in hospital after a fire in an apartment on Argyle Avenue in Centretown. It was the city's ninth fire-related fatality this year.

"Over the past 20 years, our average fatalities is four deaths from fire each year, so this is the highest number that we've reached in the last 20 years, and is also double our average," said Carson Tharris, public information officer for Ottawa Fire Services.

Tharris said the pandemic may be partly to blame, with people spending much more time in their homes. 

Carson Tharris, public information officer with Ottawa Fire Services, says there are simple precautions people can take to avoid fires in their homes. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

More time at home

"We do know that people are spending a lot more time at home in 2020, and our homes — whether it's cooking or smoking or electrical issues — do have fire risks within them," he said.

"When people were spending more time in commercial buildings, those buildings do have more protection systems in terms of sprinklers and fire alarm systems."

A 42-year-old man was pronounced dead in hospital after a fire in this Argyle Avenue building Monday. The cause of the fire is under investigation. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Tharris said residents should ensure their smoke detectors are working properly, noting other precautions people can take.

"Practising home fire safety — so making sure that heaters, electrical appliances are kept away from any combustibles. If there are people smoking cigarettes, making sure that you're not smoking in bed, or smoking on a couch, and that you're properly disposing of cigarettes," said Tharris.

The cause of the Argyle Avenue fire is still under investigation.

WATCH | Ottawa's deadly year of fires:

The number of fatal fires has reached a 20-year high in Ottawa

2 years ago
Duration 0:53
Carson Tharris, with Ottawa Fire Services, says people are spending more time at home, a factor that may be contributing to the increase in fatal fires in the city this year. A 42-year-old man became the city’s ninth victim after a fire on Argyle Avenue on Dec. 7.

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