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May 24, 2005
Escalating fireworks-related fires
Fire Chief Bill Stewart and the Toronto Fire Services would like to thank the
Toronto media for assistance in broadcasting fireworks safety messages both
proceeding and during this past Victoria Day weekend.

In spite of our concerted efforts we still had an alarming number of fires that
appear to be attributable to fireworks, and some of the aired video footage,
both amateur and professional of kids using fireworks as weapons, is indeed,
alarming. It is apparent that they fail to appreciate the harmful potential for
both injury and fire of these explosives.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but we still have our work cut out
for us in trying to cut down on the number of fires, and promote the safe use
of fireworks in order to prevent injuries and stop fire-dollar loss. So far
this year there have been 34 fires with an apparent ignition source being
fireworks, with 31 occurring over the last few days, in total, causing $306,541
in property damage. The fire at Sultan Pool Drive early this morning is still
under investigation, but fireworks is suspected. This fire alone gutted two
homes and three cars for an estimated preliminary loss of $600,000. This is a
significant increase in fireworks-related fires during the past four years.

We need to continue to get the following two messages out:

1. In a non-emergency situation, when you know or suspect that an arson crime
has been committed, or to report suspicious activity near a house, garage,
alley, railway or other building, call the Toronto Police Service 416-808-2222
extension 0.

2. Keep matches, lighters and fireworks out of reach and out of sight of
children. If you suspect a child is setting fires, notify the Toronto Arson
Prevention Program for Children 416-338-9390.

We look forward to your continued support as we try to get the message out for
the Canada Day long weekend.

Media contact:
Captain Mike Strapko, Toronto Fire Services, 416-338-9319,
416-807-7140 (cell), 416-334-5223 (pager)



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