A house that went up in flames this week was designated a “nuisance property” by the City of Nanaimo in January.

Fire officials say it looks like the house fire this week at 3111 Departure Bay Road was caused by cigarettes.

They say it started early Tuesday morning, in a pile of sawdust outside the home. Flames spread quickly to some mattresses, then climbed the side of the house and tore through 2 balconies, before igniting the roof.

The owner and 2 tenants escaped without injury. No nearby houses were damaged.

A report shared with City Council in January says police were called to the house 54 times last year, and there were complaints about furniture and garbage strewn around the property.

The report says the owner, who lived upstairs, said he had “lost control” of his tenants, who had stopped paying rent.