A blaze in north Red Deer’s Kentwood neighbourhood was likely caused by a cigarette that was improperly disposed of, according to an investigation by the city’s emergency services department.
Sunday’s blaze started on a porch at one home and quickly jumped to the other.
Total damage is estimated to be more than $700,000.
Red Deer’s assistant deputy fire chief Matt White said that a cigarette was put out in a planter on the front porch of the house and lead to the fire.
“People need to know that they can’t put out cigarette butts in planters because it has that heavy peat moss component to that soil and it supports combustion, then it gets up in the roof and goes,” he said.
“It is certainly something we have seen more than once or twice. It seems to be happening again and again and when they start in that manner on the exterior of the house– houses with vinyl siding, it tends to lean towards heavy damage.”
According to the city, both families were home when the fire started and they evacuated safely after an alert from smoke alarms and witnesses who went door to door.
The city is using the incident to remind citizens to check that they have working smoke alarms, not to leave cooking unattended, and to dispose of cigarette butts properly.