ONTARIO, Canada – (The Chronicle) -- An 18-year-old West Elgin man has been arrested and charged after an incident of arson in a West Lorne apartment building March 24 resulting in over $25,000 worth of damage from smoke.

A fire was started in the laundry room of Parkview Apartments on Graham Road March 24 around 1:15 a.m. Two building residents managed to put out the fire using pots of water before the fire department arrived. No one in the building was hurt.

An 18-year-old was arrested and charged with mischief endangering life, arson, and breach of probation. He appeared in Court March 31.

Donald Deleary of West Lorne lives on the third floor of the building. He was trying to sleep when a friend smelled smoke and woke him up. The two checked his apartment for fire first. When they found nothing, Deleary went out into the hall.

“As soon as I opened the door, you couldn't even see out into the hallway. My eyes instantly started watering,” said Deleary. “You could see the glow on the second floor. The whole floor was like orange-y.” Deleary said he pulled the fire alarm and then he and a neighbour from the second floor dealt with the fire. The fire was spreading up the wall of the building laundry room. The two of them put out the flames Deleary described as “at least eight feet high”, using two pots of water.

“I had to do it. I wasn't going to let the place burn,” said Deleary.

Deleary said that after the fire was out, he opened up some windows to let the smoke out, then went outside and vomited from smoke inhalation. Deleary is feeling fine now and is back living in his apartment on the third floor.

The fire did little structural damage, but smoke damage has affected nearly every room of the building. Economical Insurance sent in an MJL Disaster Kleenup team to clean up the building. The MJL team was at the apartment building for the rest of the week using special chemicals and sponges to clean soot and ash out of the walls and ceilings. Tim Scott, the project manager, estimates the cleanup to be a job somewhere between $25,000 to $35,000.

“It's like cigarette smoke. It stays in soft furniture, rugs, and carpets and leaves a film behind,” said Scott. “If you leave this, it will smell forever.”