There was little left of the main lodge at Stanhope Resort after the fire. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

A fire that destroyed a major North Shore resort on P.E.I. started in the mulch on a flower bed near the main lodge, but the exact source of ignition is unknown, says Fire Marshal Dave Rossiter.

The origin of the fire was on the south side of the main lodge. High winds blowing toward the lodge led the flames to quickly spread to the building.

"It could be anything from a cigarette to a piece of glass or anything like that that could create a spark or a fire,"

"When we're dealing with a loss that big, of that magnitude, we're not in the process of guessing."

Rossiter said there were people smoking on the property, but he had no reports of anyone smoking in that area.

The fire marshal`s office issued the following reminders regarding the use of garden mulch.

  • Keep combustible mulch at least 45 centimetres from buildings.
  • Combustible mulch layers should be no more than seven centimetres thick.
  • Larger piles of mulch should not be exposed to the sun if at all possible.
  • Keep combustible mulch moist if possible, especially if it is near a building.
  • Ensure that any possible ignition sources are controlled in or around combustible mulch.
  • Test lights or wiring located in a mulch area to ensure they are in good working condition.

Rossiter praised the work of volunteer firefighters on the scene, who he said were able to save a nearby building and keep a propane tank cool under difficult conditions.