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Press Release Improper Disposal of Smoking Materials Cause of Douglas Apartment Building Fire

Use Metal Containers with Wet Sand to Dispose of Smoking Materials Outside
For immediate release:
3/28/2019
  • Department of Fire Services
  • Douglas Fire Department

Media Contact for Improper Disposal of Smoking Materials Cause of Douglas Apartment Building Fire

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

Proper disposal of smoking materials in a can with sand

DOUGLASDouglas Fire Chief Kent F. Vinson and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said that cause of yesterday’s apartment fire at 40 Depot Street, Douglas was the improper disposal of smoking materials. About 20 residents were displaced by the fire. Chief Vinson said, “This fire started a 2:45 a.m., a time when most people are asleep. I have to credit the working smoke alarms with alerting residents to danger.” There were no injuries as a result of this fire. Damage is estimated at $300,000-$400,000.

The early morning fire started at ground level on the exterior of the 3-story, 7-unit building. There were numerous cigarette butts found in the mulch as well as a melted plastic fire pot used frequently by residents to extinguish cigarettes.

Chief Vinson said, “Smoking materials can smolder undetected for a long time before starting a fire and fires that start on the exterior of a building can get a huge head start before anyone notices or any alarms inside the building alert.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Be a responsible smoker and safely dispose of smoking materials in a metal can with wet sand. Don’t toss them into mulch, leaves, trash or plastic flower pots that can easily catch fire.” 

In 2017, there 381 residential structure fires started by smoking materials reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). Nearly 60% of them started on the exterior. Ostroskey said, “Property owners should take extra steps to provide appropriate containers for disposing of smoking materials outside.”

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Media Contact for Improper Disposal of Smoking Materials Cause of Douglas Apartment Building Fire

Department of Fire Services 

The Department of Fire Services helps keep communities safe. We provide firefighter training, public education, fire prevention, code enforcement, licensing, fire investigation, hazardous material response, and emergency response.

Douglas Fire Department

Image credits:  U.S. Fire Administration
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