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Joint discarded in recycling bin to blame for fire in Western University dorm

O'Neil/Ridley residence at Huron University College.
O'Neil/Ridley residence at Huron University College. Google Maps

An early morning fire Friday at a Western University residence building was the result of a carelessly-discarded marijuana joint that had been tossed into a recycling bin, London fire officials say.

Fire crews were called to the scene at Huron University College’s O’Neil/Ridley residence around 2 a.m. At the scene, firefighters found a working fire inside one of the building’s dorm rooms.

“We conducted a fire investigation in conjunction with Western University Police and the London Police Service, and determined the fire was caused by a discarded marijuana joint that was tossed into a recycling bin,” said acting deputy fire chief Jack Burt. The joint in the recycling bin, which was located close to a bed, caused the bed to catch fire, officials said.

READ MORE: Marijuana use linked to increase risk of strokes: study

Investigators later found that the room’s smoke alarm had been covered with a bag by the room’s occupants, to keep smoke from the joint from setting it off.

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“As a result of that, we are charging the three individuals that were in the room at the time … with impairing a smoke alarm,” Burt said. “That’s a $360 fine that we issued for each one of those individuals.”

No one was in the room at the time of the fire. Burt says they had left shortly after discarding the joint. It was only when the bag over the smoke alarm melted from the heat that anyone was aware there was a fire.

“If that smoke alarm hadn’t activated and alerted other occupants in the dorm, this could have been a very different fire,” Burt said.

“Luck was on our side that everything worked out the way it did, but the potential could have been completely different.”

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No injuries were reported, and damage in the blaze is estimated at $2,000.

READ MORE: Fire crews extinguish attic blaze at Hi-Ball Restaurant

Though the fire comes just days after the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, Burt says proper disposal is key, regardless of what is being smoked.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re smoking a marijuana joint, or cigarette, or smoking with some other device, smoking can be dangerous,” he said. “People need to be cognizant of the fact that if you are smoking inside, there is a potential a fire can happen.”

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