Cigarette in patio planter sets Chilliwack townhouse ablaze

Townhouse occupants escape unharmed, but two of four units in the two-storey complex suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage.

CHILLIWACK – A cigarette stubbed out in a planter later re-ignited and started a fire that damaged two townhomes located in the 44000-block McLaren Drive just after midnight Wednesday.

There is minor smoke and heat damage to the three other units in the two-storey complex.

There were numerous adults and teenagers in the affected townhomes, but they all managed to escape unharmed. Emergency social services is providing temporary accommodation and clothing.

There were no firefighter injuries.

But Assistant Fire Chief Ian Josephson said upon arrival at the complex, firefighters found “heavy fire and smoke coming from the back of the townhomes and heavy smoke from one of the garages.”

“Firefighters managed to access the building to knock the fire down and prevent any further damage to adjacent townhomes,” he said.

Fire investigators said a cigarette discarded in a planter located on an exterior patio ignited dry peat moss and other plant materials and quickly spread to the building’s vinyl siding.

Fire officials are reminding the public not to use planters as ashtrays, but place “deep, non-combustible ashtrays” instead in areas where people smoke.