A two-alarm fire that heavily damaged an east Vancouver apartment building, displacing more than 25 residents, was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, according to the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Saturday night blaze at the Sunpointe Apartments, 900 S.E. Park Crest Ave., started after smoking materials were left in a potted plant, Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said, adding that the fire was preventable.
Improper use or disposal of smoking materials is the second leading cause of fires, particularly accidental fires, in Vancouver, Scarpelli said.
“This is a very common theme. More people are smoking outdoors due to second-hand smoke, which is good, but not using proper receptacles,” she said.
Crews were dispatched at 10:44 p.m. to the apartments in Vancouver’s Cascade Highlands neighborhood, north of Mountain View High School, and arrived to find heavy fire showing from the structure. Initial crews worked to evacuate residents and extinguish the blaze.
Video shared on social media showed fire appeared to be burning on the back side of an apartment building in the complex. It was reported under control at 11:21 p.m. No injuries were reported.
The building was saved, but 10 units were not habitable, according to a fire department statement. It said the department was working with the Red Cross to find shelter for the displaced residents.
Scarpelli said the estimated loss was nearly $451,000.
“A lot of people are suffering because of fire causes like this,” she said. “It’s heart wrenching to see people lose everything, and it’s not their fault.”