Hummingbird feeder heater suspected cause in Nanaimo house fire


A home on 8th Street in Nanaimo burst into flames around 6:45 Wednesday night, which firefighters say was likely caused by a homemade hummingbird feeder heater.

One of the residents Ted Benkhe was on his way home from from a restaurant when he learned about the fire.

“We were on our way home from dinner when we got a phone call from our granddaughter saying the house was on fire. And I said what?,” said Benkhe.

His son was home alone when the fire broke out but managed to escape the fire crouched down below the billowing smoke inside.

“My son was sleeping in the middle bedroom and the fire started on the porch,” Benkhe added. “He heard a popping noise which we assume were the sliding glass doors imploding.”

“Nanaimo fire crews arrived to a fully involved structure fire at about 6:52 p.m. and immediately went around the building and found that the fire had started in the back and started knocking it down,” said Capt. Alan Millbank.

Jennifer Stevens lives next door. Her partner was home and had to evacuate to safety with their two daughters.

“We were all down the street when I got home and didn’t really know what was happening or if the house was catching on fire but we’re just happy our house was not on fire,” Stevens said. “But we really feel sorry for Ted, he’s such an awesome person.”

Investigators were on the scene Thursday trying to figure out what started the blaze and are pretty sure they’ve narrowed it down to a homemade bird feeder heater.

“There was a device containing open flame I believe that was being used at the time to heat a bird feeder, a hummingbird feeder,” said Millbank.

He says it appears to have fallen onto a wooden deck catching it on fire and spreading to the house.

Benkhe however finds that explanation hard to comprehend.

“I use it all the time and never had a problem,” he said. “6:30 in the morning is when the tea light was lit and this happened at 6:30 at night so I can’t see a tea light lasting for 12 hours.”

The home is likely a write off but the owner does have insurance.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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