Las Vegas Fire Investigators have determined the cause of a fire that caused $750,000 damage to a 16-unit apartment building at the Ashford Manor Apartments last night.
By way of interviews and evidence found at the area of origin, Las Vegas Fire Investigators determined that a small plastic container caught fire on the second floor landing next to the column on the front of the building that also served as a utility chase for plastic pipes used for downspouts.
When the container caught fire, heat transferred through the stucco exterior of the column into the hollow interior of the chase which had wood on the inside. Once the heat reacted with the wood inside the column, it acted like a chimney and worked its way into the attic where the fire quickly spread.
One of the occupants of an upstairs apartment saw the fire and quickly put it out with a bucket of water. They watched it for while to make sure it was out, they were not aware of what was happening on the inside of the column.
There is no outside access to the inside of the chase. Fire investigators determined that the chase acted like a chimney carrying fire, heat and smoke into the attic where the fire intensified. Once the fire burned through the roof, it was fanned by 20-30 mile per hour southerly winds which quickly whipped the fire across the roof. Firefighters were concerned the fire would spread to the next apartment building but were able to stop it.
Fire investigators ruled the fire accidental. The plastic container was being used for discarded smoking material. The cause of the fire will be listed as careless smoking-accidental.
The roof and attic area were completely destroyed, eight upstairs units sustained extensive damage from debris falling from the attic into the apartments below. The eight downstairs units appear to have heavy water damage, but it appears many of the contents are salvageable. Damage is estimated at $750,000. The American Red Cross is assisting 25 displaced people that lived in the building.
There were no reported injuries.
People are urged to call the fire department anytime they have a fire, regardless of how small it is and even if it has been put out. Firefighters have special detection equipment that can detect heat inside walls and know where to look.
This same type of fire occurred in a very large home on the city’s westside about a year ago. A trash container was against a column that held up a deck from an upstairs bedroom which acted as a cover over a patio also. Discarded smoking material was routinely put into the trash can and one afternoon it caught fire. The fire was quickly extinguished using a garden hose. The family thought the fire was out unaware that heat had transferred into the column which was also hollow and went directly to the attic area. That fire caused extensive damage to the home and displaced the family for nearly 18 months. Luckily no one was hurt in that blaze also.
In the event of ANY fire, large or small, even if extinguished, call 9-1-1 and have firefighters respond.
This will be the final release concerning this incident.
END ## LVFR/PEIO-TRS
1ST Alarm: E43,42,44,3, T3, R43, HR44, EMS1, AR53, B4,1 2ND Alarm: E203,9,53,1, T9, R42, EMS15, B10, 102, 6i1, 6i11, 6i12 3RD Alarm: E1,6,2,48, T6, R47, 114, PIO1 Special Call: E47,8, T48, AR1 Incident: 2112118 2320 Tucumcari Dr, Bldg 5 Time of Call: 6:28pm On Scene: 6:29pm Under Control: 9:29pm