Discarded butts likely cause of house fire

NANAIMO – Fire officials believe the cause of a house fire that displaced nine people Sunday was smoking materials.

Fire officials believe the cause of a house fire that displaced nine people Sunday was smoking materials.

Crews were called to a rental house on Machleary Street shortly after 3 a.m. to find the upper floor engulfed in flames.

The house was divided into three separate rental suites and all nine people living there, plus two friends, got out of the building. As a result of the heavy fire damage to the upper floor and smoke and water damage to the lower floor, officials said that nothing in the house was salvageable. None of the tenants had content insurance, but the owner had insurance on the building, which is a writeoff.

Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, said the fire started on the front closed-in deck on the upper floor.

From interviews with tenants and the evidence found on scene, he determined smoking materials likely caused the blaze. An upstairs tenant told him cigarette butts were dumped into the garbage and bags were placed on the deck. Mond found the remnants of garbage bags near the fire’s area of origin.

Mond said there are two safety lessons people can learn from the incident.

“No. 1, make sure your cigarette butts are out before you throw them out,” he said. “The other part of the safety message is make sure you have working smoke alarms.”

The smoke alarm upstairs did not activate, the alarm in one of the downstairs suites had been taken down and in the other downstairs suites, Mond could not find a smoke alarm.