Edmonton

Cigarette caused Fort McMurray apartment blaze shortly after re-entry: fire marshal

A massive fire that tore through a downtown Fort McMurray apartment building last month was caused by an unattended cigarette left in a potted plant inside a suite, Wood Buffalo fire marshal Hunter Langpap said Tuesday.

Massive blaze triggered bitter memories for residents returning from wildfire evacuation

The complex near the corner of Franklin Avenue and Prairie Loop Blvd. was fully engulfed in flames on June 6. (Roberta Hay)

A massive fire that tore through a downtown Fort McMurray apartment building last month was caused by an unattended cigarette left in a potted plant inside a suite, Wood Buffalo fire marshal Hunter Langpap said Tuesday.

Upper floors of the four-storey Cassia Manor building, near Prairie Loop Boulevard and Franklin Avenue, were engulfed in flames on the evening of June 6.

The blaze happened soon after Fort McMurray residents had started returning home after a raging wildfire prompted the largest evacuation in Alberta's history. The flames and billowing smoke from the apartment fire triggered bitter memories for some residents, who said they were unnerved so soon after the wildfire.

Cassia Manor residents had not yet been allowed to return to the building because of smoke damage from the wildfires. But cleaning crews had been on site earlier that afternoon.

It took firefighters more than an hour to bring the fire under control. Nearby apartment buildings were evacuated but the flames didn't spread to them.

Fire investigators determined soon afterward that the cause didn't appear suspicious.