A discarded cigarette likely caused a fire that destroyed a sizeable portion of a house on the Langley-Surrey border Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 27.
The house, in the 7200 block of 196th Street, is located next to a walkway that connects 196th to a nearby cul-de-sac, said Township of Langley assistant fire chief Pat Walker.
The fire began in the shrubs and bark mulch adjacent to the path. It smoldered and then passed through a chain-link fence, got into cedar hedges, and then jumped eight inches to the house’s vinyl siding, said Walker.
By the time fire crews were called at 4:24 p.m., the fire was burning up the outer wall.
A neighbour was one of the first people to notice the fire, said Walker.
The neighbour didn’t know if anyone was home, so he pounded on the front door and eventually kicked it in and yelled, said Walker.
Fortunately, the family that lived there was not home, and no people or pets are believed to have been injured.
Walker was glad the man checked for occupants.
“He did a pretty heroic thing there,” said Walker.
Fire crews from both Surrey and Langley arrived within 30 seconds of one another, and worked together to put out the blaze.
While the house was technically in Langley, 196th Street is right on the border between the two municipalities, and both fire services tend to respond to calls there and to help one another out.
“There’s great teamwork between the two different departments,” said Walker.
The firefighters had to knock in the roof and soaked the upper floor of the building to stop the fire, which had invaded the attic of the building.
The home suffered extensive damage to structure and contents.
The cause of the fire was both obvious and preventable.
“It was probably discarded smoking materials,” said Walker.
Someone apparently dropped a cigarette on the mulch.
Even with recent rain, after a largely dry summer mulch and trees are still very dry and combustible, said Walker.
“We had a fire there about a week and a half ago, from a bark mulch fire,” Walker said of the neighbourhood.
Firefighters have repeatedly reminded people this year to be cautious with fires. Backyard burning is banned at this time of the year, and cigarettes can easily cause fires. A piece of hot farm machinery is thought to have sparked a massive grass fire in a Fort Langley farmer’s field earlier this summer.
@ Copyright 2013