Improperly discarded smoking materials caused a fatal fire Saturday at a former Motel 6 in east Vancouver that is being used as a quarantine and isolation site for people exposed to COVID-19.
Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said the fire started and was confined to ground floor unit 133. No evidence suggests that the fire was caused intentionally, as has been rumored by acquaintances of the unidentified 32-year-old man who was killed, she said.
“If there is new information that comes to light, we will look at all of those facts, but nothing indicated (an intentionally set fire),” Scarpelli said.
The fire marshal said the fire was preventable.
“This is something that people need to be aware of. Smoking materials need to be disposed of properly,” she said.
The name of the victim has not been released by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Vancouver Fire Department crews were dispatched at 1:42 a.m. for a commercial structure fire at 221 N.E. Chkalov Drive. Firefighters arrived within four minutes and found flames coming from one room, department spokesman and firefighter Joe Hudson said.
Crews established an attack line and called for a second alarm due to the size of the building, Hudson said. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes.
The Vancouver Police Department responded to assist with traffic and crowd control, Hudson said.
Two people had been in the fire-affected room. The other person was uninjured, Scarpelli said.
The fire caused $126,000 in damages, according to the fire marshal.
Most of the units at the motel remain habitable, Scarpelli said. The units next to the living space that caught fire are being checked for electrical issues, which is generally what is compromised during multiresidential fires. The other units were not compromised structurally, she said.