Fire investigators are trying to determine if adiscarded cigarette is to blame for a fire at an apartment building in Moncton.

The fire started in the 54-unit building on Robinson Street around 8 a.m. Sunday.

About 60 people were forced to evacuate the four-storey building. They are all safe but 16 residents have yet to return home due to smoke and water damage.

The Canadian Red Cross is housing those tenants in a hotel until they can return or find a new place to call home.

Marc Belliveau of the Canadian Red Cross says the varying ages and abilities of the tenants of the building created a difficult situation for Red Cross workers and first responders.

“The level of vulnerability was very high. We had people who were blind, who were deaf, who are in wheelchairs,” says Belliveau.

“In recent memory, it’s one of the fires where we’ve had such a variety of issues with tenants but everything occurred the way it was supposed to. Everyone got out safely.”

Resident Julie Hache was visiting family in Miramichi at the time. She arrived back in Moncton on Monday to assess the damage.

“They called me last night and told me the building was on fire. All I thought was ‘oh my God, my cat is dying,’” says Hache.

Fortunately, her cat survived the blaze.

Most of the damage is contained to the balcony of an apartment on the second floor. The building’s sprinkler system is being credited with holding the flames back until fire crews arrived, although it caused extensive water damage.

Now, fire investigators are working to determine what caused the blaze.

“I heard it started, from a lot of people, it started from somebody throwing a cigarette from the top floor and it landed on the empty apartment, 210, and it caught fire on the patio,” says resident Lucie Belliveau.

Moncton Fire Chief Eric Arsenault says that hasn’t been confirmed  and that all possibilities are being considered.

“Nothing has been eliminated yet but they won’t say one way or the other if that’s what’s caused it,” says Arsenault. “The proof is what they’re looking for.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis