The conclusion by North Adams fire officials that the blaze on Furnace Street that displaced 10 residents of an apartment building was caused by a cigarette butt is, sadly, no surprise. This is just one more way that smoking is dangerous and potentially deadly.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA, almost 1,000 people die annually in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. Roughly 80 percent of those killed on average in recent years were not the smoker and about one-third killed were children. In 2011, the most recent year in which property damage figures were available, smoking-related fires caused more than $600 million worth of damage. It is believed that the fire in North Adams was caused when a cigarette butt flicked off a third-floor porch by a tenant was blown back onto the porch, and while there were no injuries, tenants and firefighters from four communities were placed at risk.
Cigarettes should be disposed of in an ashtray or doused in water. A better long-run solution is to quit smoking, a habit that not only may trigger fires but definitely triggers cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases.