The Dec. 21 fire that destroyed a Longview boarding house and displaced about 30 low-income people was ignited by unattended candles, and fire investigators did not find any smoke detectors in the building during an inspection, according to Longview fire officials.
A resident in the northeast corner of the first floor left candles burning on a bookcase and returned 10 minutes later to find some items had ignited and set the room ablaze, fire investigator Lt. Scott Pospichal said Tuesday.
The resident then left the bedroom door open, which allowed the smoke to spread throughout the building, known as The Commons, located at 1226 11th Ave., Pospichal said.
The loss of the building and its contents is estimated at $90,000. Extensive damage from the fire, smoke and water has made the building uninhabitable.
On-site managers previously told The Daily News that some rooms in the building did not have power and tenants used extension cords to get electricity. However, investigators were unable to confirm whether the candles were being used to heat or light the room in the absence of electrical power, Pospichal said.
In addition, fire investigators did not find any smoke alarms in the building, Pospichal said. Longview Fire Marshall Jim Kambeitz will decide whether to pursue fines for a possible violation of the fire code.
“It was preventable. Don’t leave candles and (cooking) food unattended. We recommend extinguishing candles before leaving the room,” Pospichal said. “Shutting the door would have prevented a lot of damage to the rest of the building.”