WFPS warning about smoking risks after south Winnipeg condo fire

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is warning people about the dangers of not properly disposing of cigarettes after a residential fire in south St. Vital Friday night.

The fire department responded to reports of a fire in a three-storey condominium complex in the first block of Burland Avenue around 10 p.m.

When crews arrived on scene, they saw heavy smoke coming from a storage shed on a third-floor balcony with flames extending into the attic.

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The fire was declared under control at 10:47 p.m.

Most occupants of the complex safely self-evacuated, while firefighters helped the remaining people out. No injuries were reported and residents were later able to return to their suites.

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Investigators determined the fire to be accidental, believed to be caused by the improper disposal of a cigarette butt.

People are reminded to take extra care when disposing of cigarettes.

The fire department says smoking material should always be extinguished in a proper ashtray or deep metal container. Cigarette butts should never be thrown from balconies, car windows or disposed of near any vegetation such as grass, leaves or brush.

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Additionally, people are reminded they should never use a plant pot as an ashtray. Potting soil is a mix of dirt and a number of combustible organic materials such as peat moss, shredded wood and minerals which are flammable.

Officials say when a butt is put into a planter, it can smolder for several hours. Once the container heats up, it can crack, giving the smoldering material oxygen and the opportunity to spread to other combustibles such as decks, balconies, walls, etc.

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No damage estimates are available at this time.

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