Cochrane Fire Services has determined that a portable heater was the cause of a substantially large fire that happened in the West Valley neighbourhood earlier this month.

The residential fire that happened on Saturday, November 14 started in the garage of a home on West Aarsby Road.

Fire inspector Jeff Avery says that after conducting an investigation, they determined the fire started after a portable heater came into contact with combustible items in the garage.

"It was just bad luck happening to a very good person," says Avery. "We interviewed the homeowner and he's a very nice gentleman, very cooperative, and he showed us where he had the space heater and all that. We just chalk that up to some very bad luck." 

The home itself was vacant at the time. One man who was in the garage was able to evacuate safely and fire crews were able to stop the fire before it spread to any neighbouring homes. 

The garage housed three motorcycles and two vehicles and the damage is estimated to be more than 300,000 dollars.

"With the amount of vehicles, like I said the garage was a complete loss," says Avery. "A lot of cosmetic damage to the duplex as well as when the fire did break through the sidewalls, there was a fair bit of smoke damage and heat damage inside the one side of the duplex."

Avery says that the homeowner's insurance will thankfully cover the property damage as well as the contents.

Avery stresses the importance of implementing added safety precautions when using portable heaters.

"When you are using a space heater the biggest thing is don't leave it unattended, especially don't leave it in the garage overnight or anything like that," says Avery. "Make sure that they are in an area where they're not close to anything that can catch fire, make sure that they're in an area where traffic is not going to knock them over, or somebody trips on a cord and knocks them over that way."