Marthaville fire likely caused by discarded cigarette says chief

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Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire Chief Lawrence Swift says a discarded cigarette is the likely cause of a house fire near Marthaville.

On May 23, a homeowner on Caroline Street smelled smoke while she gardened behind her home. She called 9-11 after seeing smoke coming from the front porch.

Swift was on the scene within minutes and watched as the wind pushed the flames through the porch and up the vinyl siding. “I was very surprised by the speed of this fire; it was exceptionally fast,” said Swift at the scene. “It was the fastest moving fire I’ve ever seen.”

After consulting with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, Swift says they’ve “determined the origin of the fire was certainly underneath the front deck and front porch.”

They’ve also ruled out all the other causes including any electrical failures before concluding the probable source of the fire was a cigarette.

Swift isn’t sure when the butt would have been dropped beneath the porch. “They can burn for quite some time…think of a campfire; you go back to a fire you burned before and put out, you come back and there is a little ember yet… it could have been an ember that had been there for quite some time.”

Swift says the wind likely ignited that ember into flame.

Fire officials estimate damage to the home was about $200,000.

Firefighters from Petrolia/North Enniskillen, Oil Springs and Wyoming were able to get a number of items from the home for the family including family photo albums and computers “a lot of stuff that the insurance company can’t replace.”