Fire investigators at the scene of the Paddington Station blaze. The cause has been traced to smoking materials on a balcony.

Updated: Smoking caused Langley City condominium fire: fire chief

Half of all balcony fires in the City are result of careless disposal of cigarettes

The Dec. 11 fire that left more than 100 people homeless in Langley City was the result of smoking,  City fire chief Rory Thompson said in an email to City council members.

“We have concluded our investigation which was conducted with the insurance company investigators,” the Thompson email said.

“We have determined that the cause of the fire was the result of the disposal of smoking materials on a 4th floor balcony.”

There have been 18 balcony fires in the City in the past five years, Thompson said in a statement released Monday.

Nine of the 18 required direct intervention by the fire department.

All of the nine were caused by improper disposal of “smoker’s material,” usually cigarettes butted out in planters, Thompson said.

“Smoker’s material needs to be disposed of in proper ashtrays,” Thompson said.

“Potting soil often contains peat moss which is combustible.”

Chief Thompson would like to see installation of sprinklers both on balconies and in attics of all multi-story residential buildings.

“If this building (Paddington) had sprinklers on the balconies and in the attic, this fire likely would not have spread into the attic space.”

Thompson issued a reminder to renters to make sure that they are protected with tenant insurance because building owner’s insurance only covers the structure and not contents belonging to renters.

The parkade under the fire-damaged building has been re-opened and the south face of the building has been stabilized so that residents of the neighbouring building could return to their homes.

Langley City councillor Rudy Storteboom, who lives in a different building in the same complex, said it appears the fire-damaged four-storey will likely have to be demolished and rebuilt.

“I expect that building is not recoverable, but you never know,” Storteboom said.

Dinner and a movie for residents

On Saturday night, the nearby Southgate church held a pizza and movie night for residents of the Paddington.

Those who came had dinner, then were transported to the Clova theatre in Cloverdale to watch a movie before returning to the church to make selections from the donations that filled the foyer with everything from blankets to clothes and brand-new children’s toys, all donated by church members, local residents and businesses.

Church administrator Debbie White said while the Clova theatre is now a church,  the projection equipment remains.

White said the  minute the congregation heard about the fire, “it got you thinking, what can you do?”

One of the displaced residents, Simon Bunkowski, told The Times he’s moved in with his parents.

“I might  be staying with them for a while,” said Bunkowski, one of six people with disabilities who were living in Paddington units leased  by a local assistance agency.

He said he still hasn’t been able to retrieve all his possessions from his second-floor suite, but it appears they may have survived with nothing worse than water damage, and he has insurance.

Paddington residents Jennifer Fox and Kayle Ruscheinski and their six month old daughter Kiera  (pictured) said they are also staying with family.

Fox expressed gratitude for the outpouring of help from they community.

“The support has been amazing,” she said.

Mom and kid

 

 

 

The church said many people deserved credit for making the event happen:

Mark and Vickie Funk from Big Box Outlet Store; Blake and Andrea Edgar from Pavilion Homes; Lance and Shara Holcombe from Customline Homes; Dana Matheson from C&D Logistics; Daniel Cashin from Indigo Chapters in Langley; Alan Dyck from Combine Christian School Transportation Association; the Southgate Moms Group who purchased 86 blankets from Indigo Chapters in Langley for each family and many other volunteers.

Space needed

Paddington residents in the three surviving buildings are rallying to help their displaced neighbours.

Sarah Lamoureux, who speaks for an ad hoc  group of those residents, said they are trying to find a storage unit big enough to permit sorting of the flood of donations that has come in since the fire.

“We need space,” Lamoureaux said.

Anyone who might be able to assist is asked to call 778-552-6703.

 

Just Posted

Bulldogs defeat Ridge Meadows Royals

Exhibition game proved to be challenging for both teams

Pitt Meadows man attacked on Lougheed Highway

Ridge Meadows RCMP not sure if road rage incident

Fraser, Pitt river seal hunt proposed in Lower Mainland

First Nations say fishing affected, DFO reviewing

Three Maple Ridge intersections should have easier stopping

New surfacing applied at dangerous corners

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

North Van music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read