Cigarette in the eyes as the cause of the fire that destroyed the Halfmoon building

But the massive fire destroyed the evidence needed to identify the cause. Fire investigators decided they could not prove any specific cause, said fire coordinator Ed Tremblay.

It all started on a first-floor terrace, where smokers told fire investigators they had used a fire bucket to safely extinguish their cigarette butts. But investigators were unable to recover the bucket.

“Often you could see the progress of the fire inside that article to know if it was an outside influence on the article or an inside influence,” Tremblay said. “There was no evidence to say yes or no.”

In other fires started by cigarettes, dangerous buckets have melted or collapsed due to the heat of cigarette butts placed in them. In fires caused by a thrown butt, the bucket may show that the fire has started to burn the bucket. But either way, finding the bucket — preferably intact — is an important clue.

Firefighters found the building entirely in flames from the first floor to the roof when they arrived. It was a hot fire, fueled by a brisk wind, Tremblay said. To fight it, the firefighters used “a lot of water”, which didn’t preserve much evidence.

“A lot of things were taken away,” he said.

It was July 4, but no one was barbecuing on the patio, he added.

“I don’t believe there were any barbecues involved,” he said.

Firefighters also had to search the entire building for tenants before fully concentrating on extinguishing the fire. Two people were rescued from their balconies and a boy was found asleep in his apartment. No one died.

“They were going through the rest of the building to make sure everyone was out as the residents were spread out. We had people going from apartment to apartment,” Tremblay said.

The first call for fire was at 1:04 p.m. Many residents had left for the day and the fire spread unnoticed for a considerable time.

“At night, they would probably have seen it. But a nice sunny day like it was won’t attract anyone’s attention,” said Tremblay.


He saw the fire from his window – he lives nearby – and was the first on the scene. As a crew was sent to search for residents, others began trying to put out the flames.

“We had crews simultaneously going forward to see what they could do to put out the fire, but the conditions were so hot, it was so advanced,” he said. “When I got around the corner (from his house), it was going up and down.”

It was a wooden building and it was completely destroyed.

About Margaret Shaw

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