Seven people have been forced to find somewhere else to live after a three-alarm fire tore through two townhouses in Stittsville on Thursday.

107 109 Abaca Way Stittsville fire July 24, 2014

It took firefighters nearly two hours to bring a fire at 107 and 109 Abaca Way under control on Thursday. (CBC)

The fire broke out at 109 Abaca Way, near Hazeldean and Carp roads, just before 6 p.m. The people living there weren't home but their dog was inside. A neighbour managed to let it out, the fire department said.

When fire crews arrived the blaze had already spread to an adjoining unit at 107 Abaca Way. Four adults were home at the time and they managed to escape safely.

The fire was caused by a "carelessly discarded cigarette" that was placed in a planter, fire department spokesman Marc Messier said Friday. It was the third fire in a week caused by carelessly discarded smoking material, he said.

  • Wednesday, July 23: 318 Reynolds Dr.
  • Sunday, July 20: 5540 Manotick Main St.

Both units on Abaca Way sustained extensive fire and smoke damage, with losses estimated at about $700,000 for the building and its contents.

No one was injured.

"The fire is believed to have started outside one of the units and burnt its way up the exterior wall, through the soffit, then spread quickly through the attic and second floor," the fire department said in a media release issued Thursday.

It took firefighters nearly two hours to bring the flames under control.

The homes at 105 and 111 Abaca Way also suffered some heat and smoke damage.

The Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario has been notified.

Safety reminder

The fire department is taking the opportunity to remind residents to be careful when discarding cigarettes and other smoking materials.

  • Do not extinguish cigarettes in plant pots, which often contain a mixture of peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite.
  • If you live in a highrise building, don't toss cigarettes off balconies. They could land on a balcony below and start a fire.
  • Do not discard cigarette butts under decks. Dry debris underneath could ignite.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays that can't be knocked over. A large can filled with sand works well.
  • Empty ashes into a metal container, not a garbage can, and put it outside.
  • If people have been smoking in your home, check behind chair and sofa cushions for cigarette butts before going to bed.
  • Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside sleeping areas. For added protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom, especially those of smokers.
  • Test smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries at least once per year.