Firefighters and fire investigators from Nanaimo Fire Rescue sift through debris to determine the cause of a blaze that displaced three people and badly damaged a house in Nanaimo early Tuesday, May 4. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Firefighters and fire investigators from Nanaimo Fire Rescue sift through debris to determine the cause of a blaze that displaced three people and badly damaged a house in Nanaimo early Tuesday, May 4. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Damaging house fire in Nanaimo was sparked by cigarettes

Three people escaped blaze that caused parts of the home’s roof to collapse

Three people escaped uninjured from a house fire in Nanaimo, but are now displaced.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue responded to the alarm at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 4, after a blaze broke out in a home in the 3100 block of Departure Bay Road.

The fire, which is currently under investigation by Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s fire and loss prevention division, heavily damaged the downstairs and upstairs of the two-storey house and was so intense that parts of the roof of the home collapsed.

Two tenants, living in the downstairs of the house, and the homeowner were home when the fire broke out.

“There were three people inside at the time. They all got out safely and there were no injuries,” said Brad Wood, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations.

Wood said firefighters had difficulty attacking the fire from the back of the home, which is located on a steep slope overlooking Woodstream Park, but were still able to knock down the blaze fairly quickly.

Wood said he expected fire investigators to be on the scene for several hours.

Capt. Alan Millbank, head of Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s fire and loss prevention division, said in an e-mail that it appeared that cigarettes that had been discarded in sawdust sparked the blaze outside the rear exterior basement level of the house.

“Cigarettes were found in the area of origin in a pile of sawdust,” Millbank said. “The cigarettes smouldered and ignited the sawdust, which ignited mattresses leaning on the exterior of the building.”

The fire burned through the exterior vinyl siding and extended up the rear exterior of the house, causing two decks to collapse. It then burned through the soffets and through the roof.

“The premises is uninhabitable and structurally unsound,” Millbank said.

The house was designated a nuisance property by city council this past January following 54 complaints and calls for service to the property for yelling, family disputes, loud music and fights, plus garbage and furniture on the premises and a number of medical aid calls, according to a staff report.

Millbank said the owner of the house is insured.

READ ALSO: RCMP say Wakesiah Avenue fire was arson, suspect has been arrested

READ ALSO: Multiple ‘mini explosions’ reported as 4 departments battle blaze near Qualicum Beach
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