Firefighters kept busy with human-caused blazes

NANAIMO – Four structure fires in three days were sparked by human error or intent.

A firefighter prepares to knock down flames erupting from the kitchen of a house at 215 Newcastle Ave. Monday after dragging a hose through heavy overgrowth on the property. It was the second fire in the residence in less than two years.

A firefighter prepares to knock down flames erupting from the kitchen of a house at 215 Newcastle Ave. Monday after dragging a hose through heavy overgrowth on the property. It was the second fire in the residence in less than two years.

Four recent structure fires were triggered by human error or intent.

A fire in house at 215 Newcastle Ave. Monday morning was sparked by smouldering firewood.

The blaze that broke out shortly after 9 a.m. destroyed the kitchen of the house on the corner of Newcastle Avenue and Bryden Street.

Flames were spilling out of the house’s kitchen windows when firefighters arrived, but were quickly knocked down.

Fire damage was contained to the kitchen, but smoke damage extended through much of the residence.

Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, said the blaze was caused by firewood, which the elderly woman who lives in the house, had pulled out of a pot-belly wood stove in the kitchen and placed on the kitchen floor believing the wood was not burning. She then went for a walk with her dog.

No one was injured, but it was the second fire in the house related to a wood stove.

In September 2011, firefighters battled a blaze after material close to a wood stove ignited. Damage in that case was limited to the materials near the stove.

Following that fire, the woman was ordered to clear her house of extensive amounts of combustible items she had collected over the years. She complied, with help from a local service club, and has since been living at the house. Mond said when he investigated Monday’s fire, the interior of the home had been kept clear of clutter.

“The power’s been cut to the house and the water’s been cut to the house, so it’s not habitable,” Mond said.

Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo Emergency Services coordinator, said the woman was given 72-hours food and lodging under the community assistance program, but said she does not know where the woman will go after that time runs out.

“She has no family either,” Lindsay said.

Firefighters were kept busy with other human-caused blazes over the weekend.

A fire at a house on White Eagle Terrace Friday was ignited by a homeowner burning weeds next to his home with a torch.

“An elderly gentleman was burning weeds with a torch, which eventually ignited his shrubbery, which is about the size of a Christmas tree,” Mond said.

The fire extended up into the soffits and gutter of his home and damaged the siding.

A fire broke out at an appliance repair shop at the corner of Northfield and Dorman roads shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday after the business owner put an old stove and a non-functioning dishwasher out to be picked up for recycling.

“A person or persons unknown came along and lit the dishwasher on fire, which spread to his building,” Mond said.

The flames damaged the building’s vinyl siding and weather barrier.

Later that morning firefighters also rushed out to a fire at a house in the 5100 block of Hammond Bay Road. People renting the house were having a party and smoking on the deck.

They snuffed out their cigarettes in a planter attached to the house under a kitchen window.

“A gentleman in the house woke up in the morning with the smoke alarm going off,” Mond said.

Shortly after 7 a.m., the resident found his kitchen filled with smoke coming through the kitchen window that had been cracked by the heat of a fire that broke out in the planter.

Damage was limited to the window and planter.

“It was lucky he got up when he did,” Mond said.