A massive fire at a condo building in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood in May was caused by someone disposing of smoking materials the wrong way, according to the Calgary Fire Department (CFD).
The fire prompted the early morning evacuation of 128 units on May 30, displacing more than 200 people.
Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze through the night.
The CFD confirmed Wednesday the fire started when a cigarette was thrown in an outdoor planter on a patio at about 10:30 p.m. Investigators say it smouldered for a while before an actual flame broke out. Firefighters were called to the condo at about 1:30 a.m.
“As part of its Inglewood investigation, the Calgary Fire Department spoke with witnesses who reported a fire emerging from a container between an outdoor deck window and door,” Calgary fire said, adding residents were able to get out just before the fire broke through the windows.
‘Extreme year for smoking-related fires’
Calgary fire took the opportunity to remind Calgarians, again, about the dangers of carelessly disposing of smoking materials.
“We’ve seen three careless disposal fires in the last five days,” acting fire investigation coordinator Travis Thiessen said in a release.
“This has been an unusual and extreme year for smoking-related fires in Calgary.”
Calgary fire said of the 53 building fires they responded to in May and June, 35 per cent were related to smoking.
Of the 25 most serious building fires in that time frame, 13 are either believed to be or have been determined to be caused by careless disposal of smoking materials.
The CFD gives the following safety tips for discarding smoking materials:
- Never put out cigarettes or smoking materials in plant pots, peat moss, your lawn or garden. Use a deep, wide, sturdy metal container with a lid, filled part way with sand or water that should be emptied regularly.
- Ensure all butts and ash are out by dousing with water prior to putting in the trash.
- Do not store propane tanks, firewood or yard waste next to your house.
- Check your smoke alarms, change them every 10 years and always plan two ways out.
- Always use a spark guard on your outdoor fire pit and observe city bylaws on outdoor fires: calgary.ca/firepits
- Immediately call 911 to report a fire.
Calgary fire said May was the busiest month in the past five years for building and structure fires with $10.9 million in property losses being reported. Smoking materials are the leading cause of outdoor fires in Calgary and were the cause of 48 per cent of fires where the cause could be identified, CFD said.