Friday, May 4, 2012 | 10:56 p.m.
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Fire investigators ruled that careless smoking caused a small plastic container to catch fire and set off Thursday’s apartment complex blaze, which caused $750,000 in damage and displaced 25 people.
Firefighters battled the fire that started around 6:30 p.m. at a 16-unit apartment complex at 2320 Tucumcari Drive, said Tim Szymanski, spokesman for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.
Szymanski said a small container caught fire on the second floor near a hollow column of the building resulting in a chimney effect, which enabled the fire to spread to the attic, Szymanski said.
When residents in that apartment unit saw the fire they poured water on the flames but were not aware the blaze had started inside the column, he said.
The fire intensified in the attic where it was fueled by winds as high as 30 mph, Szymanski said.
In about three hours firefighters got the attic fire under control before it was able to spread to the next apartment building, Szymanski said.
Fire investigators ruled the fire accidental due to careless smoking, Szymanski said. Residents of the apartment had been using a small plastic container to discard smoking material.
The fire destroyed the roof and attic of the apartment complex, as well as extensively damaging eight upstairs units, he said. Downstairs units also sustained water damage during the blaze, but it is believed that contents of the homes will be salvageable.
The American Red Cross is assisting the people displaced as a result of the fire, Szymanski said. No injuries were reported.