Animas View Drive fire contained

Condo residents smelled smoke Wednesday night

Durango Fire & Rescue Authority firefighters tear out a portion of the wall on the back deck of a condominium on Animas View Drive Thursday afternoon. Cigarettes discarded in a flower pot are suspected of starting the fire. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Durango Fire & Rescue Authority firefighters tear out a portion of the wall on the back deck of a condominium on Animas View Drive Thursday afternoon. Cigarettes discarded in a flower pot are suspected of starting the fire.

Firefighters suspect cigarettes discarded in a flower pot are to blame for a porch fire that ignited Thursday in north Durango.

The fire was reported at 11:30 a.m. in the 500 block of Animas View Drive, but neighbors reported smelling smoke as early as 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal with the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.

Residents of the Pear Tree Condo development said they searched for the origin of the odor, but they did not find anything unusual Wednesday, Hanks said.

As the day warmed up, the smoldering fire ignited, she said.

Tracy Jones, who lives in the condo, said she smelled smoke about midnight and thought neighbors were smoking cigarettes. She woke up about 4 a.m. and smelled smoke again, but thought it might be a barbecue or leaves burning.

An alarm sounded about 11:30 a.m., and Jones looked out her third-story window to see smoke. She went downstairs to her second-story balcony and saw 3- to 4-foot flames.

She poured two bowls of water on the flames before evacuating, she said.

“I have no idea what would have happened if I wasn’t here,” she said.

Hanks said it appears as though roommates or visitors discarded cigarette butts in a flower pot with soil.

“People don’t understand that potting soil is fairly combustible,” she said.

The fire damage was contained to the balcony, she said.

Several small fires are started each year along Main Avenue by people who discard cigarettes in flower pots, Hanks said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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