Smoke filled the halls with the smell of very burnt popcorn.
Students living in Simcoe Village residence at Durham College were awakened by the loud sounds of the fire alarm Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 around midnight.
People were pushing and shoving to get out of the emergency exit. The voices of people asking “what’s going on?” and “are you serious right now?” were almost drowned out by the alarm.
Residents were coughing because the smoke was overwhelming.
According to Christopher Pinette, a Simcoe Village residence staff member, a bag of popcorn was left in the microwave in a room just long enough for it to produce enough smoke to cause the alarm to sound. There were no actual flames.
Pinette said the fire department responded and arrived within 10 minutes.
“For everyone’s safety we followed our safety protocols so we just evacuated the building, went in and checked and it was nothing so we let everyone back in,” Pinette said.
About 200 students were evacuated out of the building into the parking lot for their safety. The students stood out in the cold air for about 40 minutes before safely being allowed to re-enter the building.
Pinette explained there was no major damage done and the occupants of the first floor room where the smoke started were able to return to their place.
According to Derrick Clark, deputy fire chief at Oshawa Fire Services, no one was harmed or injured, it was a very small incident.
“Specifically through the school year we get these accidents happen now and then,” Clark explained, “it’s not something that happened regularly, it’s just kids are busy like everyone else and we always tell people never leave food unattended.”
Clark added that cooking is the major cause of fires in Ontario and that is why part of the building code when living in residence is no hotplates and rooms do not have stoves, because it too dangerous.
“Be vigilant if you are using the microwave or any cooking items and also when the alarm system sounds make sure you know where to go and what to do and how to get out or escape,” Clark said, adding, “early escape is key, people get trapped in the smoke in the hallway and turned around, so it’s key to know where the stairwells are and how to get out quick.”
According to Clark, fire safety and knowing the procedures is important when living in a building like a campus residence.
“Make sure the people don’t take out the batteries in their smoke detectors in their rooms,” Clark advised.