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Press Release Smoking Cause of 5-alarm Lawrence Fire

Fire Officials Urge: Put It Out. All the Way. Every Time.
For immediate release:
  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact for Smoking Cause of 5-alarm Lawrence Fire

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

Smoking Fire Safety Bi-Lingual Transit Ad

LAWRENCELawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty, Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the April 7, 2021 fire on Bennington and Saratoga Streets is the improper disposal of smoking materials.

The fire originated in a carport attached to the back of 14 Saratoga Street. The cause was the improper disposal of smoking materials. The exterior fire spread quickly to the building, then to 12 Saratoga Street and 19 Bennington Street before firefighters arrived. Three buildings suffered exterior damage to the vinyl siding but no interior damage: 16 Saratoga Street, which suffered heavy exterior damage, 21 Bennington Street and 23 Bennington Street. Additionally, a motor vehicle and a motorcycle were destroyed. Damages are estimated at more than
$1 million.

Mayor Vasquez said, “I want to thank the fire department for their diligent effort in putting out the fire so quickly and efficiently. This fire was devastating, but it could have been a lot worse without the leadership and quick thinking of our Fire Chief Brian Moriarty and the Lawrence Fire Department in addition to the mutual aid received from the fire departments of 24 other communities.” He added, “It is important for members of our community to understand the importance of fire safety. We must regularly change the batteries in our smoke alarms, come up with a plan for escaping a fire in the case one arises in our home, and make sure that if there is a fire we give the fire department plenty of space and keep a distance in order for them to be able to do their job.”

Chief Moriarty said, “It’s good that smokers go outdoors to smoke, but it is so important to properly dispose of smoking materials. Use a metal can filled with water and sand. Don’t drop on the ground, in mulch or dried leaves or potted plants or mix with trash.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “This is the time of year when smoking causes so many fires. A smoldering cigarette can quickly be fanned to life on a windy day. Until you can quit, be a responsible smoker. Put it out. All the way. Every time.”

Chief Moriarty said, “Fortunately no one died in this fire but if it had occurred in the middle of the night when people were sleeping, the outcome might have been different. Exterior fires can get a hold of a building before the smoke alarms alert residents to danger. And most of our older wooden buildings have no fire sprinklers that would control the fire and give people more time to escape.”

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

Smoking and Porch Fire Safety Campaign
The Department of Fire Services has a public awareness campaign on smoking fire safety with a focus on porch fire safety in our traditional 3-decker neighborhoods. Visit for information in English and Spanish.


Media Contact for Smoking Cause of 5-alarm Lawrence 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.