Victoria mother drags child's burning bed through apartment

By Cindy E. Harnett, Times Colonist December 28, 2009

When a child’s mattress started smoking late Sunday night, the girl’s mother instinctively dragged the burning bed through their Victoria apartment and threw it over the balcony.

“It appears the child may have been playing with candles,” said Battalion Chief Scott Woodburn. The mother was alerted to the flames when the fire alarm sounded. She entered the girl’s room to find it full of smoke.

The four-year-old girl suffered smoke inhalation and both parent and child received “fairly minor burns” but the well-intentioned rescue could have been deadly, Woodburn said.

“[The mattress] could have exploded into a ball of flames,” Woodburn said. “We never recommend people do that sort of thing.”

Dragging the highly flammable mattress and giving it air helped to fan the already raging flames. Fiery debris and sparks from the mattress could have ignited fires throughout the apartment, in neighbouring apartments, or on items below as it was thrown over the balcony.

The recommended practice when spotting a fire or hearing a fire alarm is to immediately call 9-1-1, get everyone out of the area if possible, and wait outside until firefighters arrive. Often fire trucks are on the scene within minutes, Woodburn said.

The incident occurred at 10:15 Sunday night on Dowler Street in Blanshard Court, “just a stone’s throw” from the nearby fire department between Bay and King streets. Five fire trucks responded.

The fire is still under investigation.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist