For Immediate Release - June 12, 2017

Smoking Cause of 6-Alarm Lawrence Fire

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty announced the cause of yesterday’s 6-alarm fire on Bennington and Saratoga Streets in Lawrence was the improper disposal of smoking materials. The fire totally destroyed three 3-family homes and damaged four other homes and a large detached garage. Damages are estimated in excess of $1 million. Three firefighters and one civilian were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries. Sixty-four people are believed to be displaced by the fire from 17 units of housing.

Fire Started on Exterior
Investigators determined that the fire started outside of 131-133 Bennington Street near a side entrance to the building. A resident had been smoking earlier in the day and discarded smoking materials on the ground in this area containing dried vegetation and other combustibles. The wind-swept fire quickly moved up the exterior of the building and around to the back.

There had been speculation that a grill started the fire, but the investigation revealed no one actually saw a grill on fire and that the grill that had once been there had been removed a year ago.

Members of the Lawrence Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal jointly investigated the fire.

Over Half of Smoking Fires Start on the Exterior of the Building
As more people smoke outdoors rather than inside, more than half of building fires started by smoking begin on decks, porches, and exterior stairways. In 2015, 2,470 fire incidents were caused by the improper use or disposal of smoking material causing ten civilian deaths, 30 civilian injuries, 38 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $32 million.

Be a Responsible Smoker: Put It Out. All the Way. Every Time.

  • If you smoke, properly dispose of all smoking materials every time.
  • Always use appropriate receptacles for disposing of smoking materials and matches.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in mulch, potted plants, vegetation or trash.
  • Use ashtrays that will not burn or catch fire and that are deep enough to contain butts. Wet butts down before throwing out.
  • Be smart in your choice of containers for butts. Consider using metal cans with sand for outdoor disposal.