The smoke was visible from miles away as the worst fire of 2016 drove dozens of people out of their Langley City homes.
On the morning of Dec. 11, a fire started by a discarded cigarette sparked on a balcony at Paddington Station, in the 20100 block of Fraser Highway.
It spread into the attic spaces and then burned sideways, gutting the entire top floor of a building with more than 80 units.
People streamed out as fire alarms blared, carrying pets and whatever they could grab in a few minutes. Many people were left with only the clothes on their backs, but no one was killed or seriously injured.
The massive blaze raged for hours, with firefighters from Langley City, Township, and Surrey fighting it.
In the wake of the fire, Langley opened its hearts, closets, and wallets to those displaced.
Various points collecting clothing, blankets, and other donations quickly ran out of room to store the goods they were given.
Multiple small fundraisers were begun online, and money was donated through charities and local banks.
A concert organized by Langley country singer Karen Lee Batten raised more than $56,500, with more being counted.
It was unclear how long it would take to repair or replace the badly damaged condo building, but estimates were as high as 18 months to two years.