Couch catches fire at student apartment after laptop left unattended

A laptop on a couch is to blame for a fire in a unit of a Bricker Ave. student residence Monday evening, according to the Waterloo Fire Department.

25 Bricker Avenue was evacuated just after 7:30 p.m., after an emergency call reported a fire in a first floor unit apartment. Approximately $75,000 in damages was estimated, but no injuries were reported.

“After [the firefighters] put it out, they determined that it was started because of a laptop that was left on a couch,” said John Percy, public education officer for the Waterloo Fire Department.

According to Percy, firefighters were able to contain the fire to just where the laptop was on the couch in the apartment.

“When you’re using laptops, they have ventilation holes on the sides and the bottom because of the fan and the battery gets hot when you’re using them for a long time,” Percy said. “We’re thinking because it was sitting on a couch, maybe those ventilation holes got blocked by the cushions. And it was there for several hours.”

Percy said the fire was under control fairly easy, however six students were not allowed to return to the apartment. Wilfrid Laurier University helped out the city by putting the displaced students in residences.

While WLU owns a number of buildings on Bricker and Ezra Ave., Kevin Crowley, director of communications and public affairs at Laurier, assured that the building is privately owned and not one of Laurier’s.

“It’s close to the university … but it wasn’t one of our buildings. But we’re trying to help out as best we can,” Crowley said. “At the moment, the six students, we’ve provided temporary housing for and we’re talking to [them] to see if there’s any other needs we can help with.”

The students are currently staying in King’s Court residence on King Street North. Crowley said that he did not know how long the students would be staying in the residence.

Percy stressed that precautions should be taken when using a computer anywhere.

“Going forward, if you’re going to use your laptop, regardless of if it’s on the couch, on a tale, on a chair, you have to make sure there’s clearances to those ventilation holes so that it van cool off,” he said.