Nearly two months after a ten-alarm fire caused extensive damage in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, neighborhood, fire investigators have determined the cause. According to the Boston Patch, fire officials say construction subcontractors working onsite the day of the fire discarded smoking materials, causing the blaze. Authorities would not say if criminal charges would be leveled.
Fire officials concluded that smoking materials were left around nearby recycling bins full of construction debris from ongoing rehabilitation work. From 2007 to 2011 abandoned or discarded smoking material caused an average of 11,750 fires in the U.S., 320 deaths and 647 injuries. Careful disposal of smoking materials is important indoors and outdoors. Smoking materials should not be discarded in vegetation, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, mulch, leaves, or similar items. Before throwing out butts or ashes, make sure they are out. They should be put out in sand or water. NFPA’s webpage on smoking safety, and the Smoking and Home Fire Safety tip sheet provide additional precautions.