Sept. 21--An ashtray with a discarded cigarette is being blamed for a blaze that destroyed one house and damaged three others from exposure to intense heat and flames in a Chesterfield County subdivision just north of Colonial Heights.
No one was injured but eight people were displaced by Thursday's 4:15 p.m. fire, said Chesterfield police Capt. Charlie Knowles.
Chesterfield Fire Marshal Robby Dawson said the fire's cause was pinpointed to the back deck of a home in the 2700 block of Amherst Ridge Loop, where a smoldering cigarette left unattended in an ashtray with possibly other materials sparked a fire that smoldered for up to an hour before spreading up the exterior of the house.
"The fire was unnoticed by the occupants initially before it was too large for them to be able to bring control to contain," Dawson said.
The fire spread to the attic of one adjacent home, and the intense heat melted the vinyl siding on two other nearby houses, Knowles said.
The fire destroyed all but a small section of the home that originally caught fire, Knowles added. That home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene.
"The best we can tell, there was some type of smoking materials that were involved that could have got knocked over, could have set something on fire or could have smoldered for awhile and developed its own fire," Knowles said.
Damage to the home that was destroyed was estimated at $168,000, not including the contents.
Copyright 2013 - Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.