EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally stated that 47 fires had started in Edmonton in 2018 due to smokers’ materials, based on information received from Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS). That number was later corrected by EFRS to 54. This story has been updated to reflect the correct information.
A fire that forced dozens of people from their homes early Sunday morning was caused by a cigarette being put out in potting soil, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) said on Monday.
Crews were called to the Monticello apartment building near 27 Avenue and 115 Street in the south Edmonton neighbourhood of Blue Quill at around 1:45 Sunday morning.
They arrived about five minutes later to a working fire.
All residents of the 90-unit building were ordered to leave their homes and taken to a nearby school until accommodations could be set up.
On Monday, a spokesperson said the Alberta Red Cross was helping about 30 people with emergency food, clothing and accommodations.
On Sunday, fire spokesperson Suzzette Mellado told Global News that one person was taken to hospital. There was no update on Monday on the person’s injuries.
Crews got the fire under control before 5:30 a.m.
Fire investigators have determined the fire started in a suite on the fourth floor. The improperly disposed of cigarette is estimated to have caused a total of $14 million in damage. All units in the building are now uninhabitable.
The EFRS program Stub it Right, Don’t Ignite works to remind smokers the proper way to dispose of their materials.
According to the program’s web page, more than $60 million in damage has been caused since 2010 due to improperly disposed of smokers’ material.
To date in 2018 there have been 54 fires related to smokers’ materials, with an estimated $19.3 million in property loss, EFRS said.
In 2017 there was $3.5 million in property loss due to 63 fires caused by careless smoking and there was $5.4 million in damage done in 88 fires in 2016.
The program encourages smokers to only extinguish materials in deep, non-combustible ashtrays, to always ensure cigarettes are wet before putting them in the garbage and to always keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of the reach of children.
– With files from Morgan Black, Global News