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2-alarm duplex fire in Vancouver caused by improperly discarded cigarette butts

A fire that ripped through adjoining duplexes Friday in Vancouver’s Lincoln neighborhood was caused by improperly discarded cigarettes, according to a deputy fire marshal.

The preliminary investigation found that the blaze was preventable and the result of “a careless smoker discarding cigarette butts in bark dust,” Vancouver Deputy Fire Marshal Chad Lawry said.

The fire damage for both properties was estimated to be about $367,000, according to Lawry.

There were no injuries, he said, but eight people and four pets were displaced. The American Red Cross was called to assist them.

The fire was reported at 9:16 a.m. at 3609, 3611, 3615 and 3619 Olive St.

Two people and their pets escaped via second-floor balconies as a fast-moving fire destroyed their homes.

Vancouver firefighters arrived around the time the last tenant was rescued by a neighbor, who stood on the roof of a low shed, reached up to her balcony and told the woman to climb onto his shoulders.

A large plume of black smoke was visible for miles, and the first arriving firefighters immediately called for a second alarm. That brought a dozen units, including both of the city’s ladder trucks, to the scene. Clark County Fire District 6 contributed three engines, and Clark County Fire and Rescue stationed units from north Clark County to central Vancouver to make sure the city wasn’t stripped of emergency services.

Flames shot through the roof of at least one of the 40-year-old duplexes, which are of wood-frame construction with vinyl siding. They are two stories, with a drive-in basement, and sit close together along a narrow street above the BNSF West Vancouver rail yard.

The fire was declared under control about 10:20 a.m., but firefighters remained on scene for several hours to conduct mop-up operations.

“It’s another illustration of how critically important it is to be sure that you put out cigarette butts in water in a non-combustible container every time,” Lawry said.

It was the second two-alarm fire in Vancouver last week. Four people were injured and 16 units were damaged in a fire Wednesday night at Autumn Chase apartments in east Vancouver. The cause of that fire remains under investigation, Lawry said.


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