An Easter Sunday fire that destroyed a 16-unit apartment building in Dartmouth, MA has been blamed on the improper disposal of a cigarette on a second-floor balcony.
The blaze left dozens of people homeless on the holiday and caused an estimated $2 million in damages to the building. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.
“As more and more people are smoking outdoors, more smoking fires are originating on the exterior — places like balconies, exterior stairways and enclosed porches,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan in a statment. “In 2010, half of all smoking fires in homes started on the exterior.”
Coan added that if you smoke, it's important to keep sturdy ashtrays or containers filled with sand or water nearby to properly dispose of cigarettes or cigars.
Many were surprised at how quickly the fire spread throughout the building, but fires that originate outside of the building take longer for fire alarms and sprinkler systems to detect.
In Massachusetts during 2010, 1,862 fires were caused by smoking, including 576 structure fires, 25 motor vehicle fires, 946 tree, brush or grass fires, 78 trash or rubbish fires, 114 special outside fires, and eight cultivated vegetation or crop fires. These fires caused 10 civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries, 42 firefighter injuries and an estimated $14.7 million in property damage, fire officials said.
Please remember to always be responsible and properly dispose of smoke materials.