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Ontario’s firefighters are urging the public to practise fire safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, saying there’s been a sharp increase in the number of fires in the province this summer.

The Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association said Friday that with more people at home over the past several months, more Ontarians are cooking at home — significantly increasing the risk of a house fire.

Carmen Santoro, the president of the OPFFA, said the province is on track for nearly 116 fire deaths in 2020 which would be the highest number in more than a decade.

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“Firefighters would like to see Ontarians work together to be fire safe and to turn around the tragic trend we have seen so far this year,” Santoro said in a statement.

“Firefighters are ready to respond when fires occur, but the safest and best scenario is always when a fire can be prevented in the first place.”

The average number of annual fire fatalities in the 10-year period of 2009 to 2018 was just under 85, according to the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal.

The OPFFA recommend a series of steps to help prevent house fires, including making sure that smoking materials are properly extinguished, cooking activities are adequately supervised, and electrical appliances are in good repair.

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