February 13, 2019 6:38 pm
Updated: February 14, 2019 4:20 pm

Toronto Fire investigating blaze that decimated man’s downtown condo

WATCH ABOVE: A downtown Toronto condo unit is destroyed after a devastating fire believed to have been started by a space heater. As Caryn Lieberman reports, many space heater-related fires happen in the city each year.


A Toronto man woke up in the middle of the night to his downtown condo filled with smoke on Monday.

The heat wasn’t working in Ben Simak’s condo so he said he plugged in a space heater for warmth. Simak said he believes it was the heater that lit a nearby couch on fire, which caused the blaze.

“I woke up to my room full of smoke and my condo alarm going off,” Simak said in an Instagram post. “The fire was too big for me to do anything about it and I was able to make it out and call 911.”

READ MORE: 2 injured, including firefighter, in Parkdale rooming house fire

Toronto Fire confirmed they were called to the scene at 281 Mutual St. at 4:02 a.m.

A window was blown out and flames could be seen coming out of the 26th floor apartment. The fire was deemed a two-alarm and nine fire trucks attended the scene and were able to extinguish it by 4:15 a.m, but Simak’s condo was virtually decimated.

Toronto fire officials could not confirm whether the space heater caused the fire, however, they said the investigation is ongoing.

Scene of destruction after a fire ripped through Ben Simak’s condo on Monday.

Instagram/Ben Simak

“I’m glad I woke up when I did or things may have turned out a lot worse,” Simak continued in the post, alongside pictures of what was left of his condo.

READ MORE: 3-alarm fire under control in building in Chinatown: Toronto fire chief

Though the cause of the fire has yet to be confirmed, Toronto Fire Captain Roman Wojnarski told Global News they do see several fires in Toronto homes that are due to space heaters.

“[Space heaters] aren’t designed or intended to be a principal source of heat in the home,” Wojnarski said. “You only want them to heat a small part in the home to supplement the heat that’s already there.”

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Wojnarski said heaters are especially a concern in the winter months because people use them as a supplementary heat source in smaller rooms.

“But it’s when they’re misused, they’re not maintained properly, or they’re improperly set that we find that there are problems.”

Statistics from Toronto Fire Services said in 2017, 17 fires in Toronto homes were a direct result of space heaters. In 2018, there were 15.

So far in 2019, there have been four.

READ MORE: Firefighters extinguish Agincourt Recreation Centre blaze after 39 hours

“These are safe things to use when they’re used properly in accordance whit the manufacturer’s instructions and the information that Toronto Fire Services and the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management provide online.”

Wojnarski said the heaters should be used to heat the air and the space around them, but they are not meant for drying clothes or any other application.

He said if people are to use them, they should be used in a constantly attended location, one metre from anything that’s combustible or anything that will burn.


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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