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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Vaisakhi parade crowd in Newton, pre-pandemic. (Photo: Crystal Scuor)
Surrey Mounties urge Vaisakhi, Kissan celebrants to heed public health orders

Report violations to the City of Surrey Bylaw call centre at 604-591-4370 or the Surrey RCMP non-emergency line at 604-599-0502

Anita Nielsen and a group of her neighbours argued last year that a proposed four-storey apartment building would destroy the historic character of Elm Street, as well as bringing increased traffic, blocking ocean views and causinge parking issues along the street and Beachview Avenue in White Rock. (File photo)
Elm Street OCP designation changed by White Rock council

Motion aimed at keeping historic pocket ‘as it is’

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Residents of 15156 Victoria Ave. say they’re at risk of losing their affordable housing, from left, Elizabeth Soper, Jack, Jane, Dan, Anthony. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock tenants, landlord to go to RTB hearing over ‘renoviction’

Low-income tenants dispute claim they must relocate for work to be completed

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read