A sharp-eyed maintenance worker arriving early for work spotted a fire on a fourth floor balcony at in Chesterfield.
Officials suspect the wood floorboards were ignited by "improper disposal of smoking material."
By 4:15am Friday, a maintenance worker called 9-1-1 and Monarch Fire Protection District was dispatched, Fire Marshal Roger Herin said.
When firefighters arrived, they raised the ladder to a balcony at Unit 2242 and extinguished the small fire that was burning the wooden floor of the porch.
Smoldering embers fell to the balcony below, and they were also extinguished.
The Willows at Brooking Park is a fairly new retirement community of apartments, that provide assisted living services, located on Woods Mill Road near building.