NORTH ADAMS -- A fire that displaced 10 residents of a Furnace Street apartment building on April 10 could have been avoided, fire officials say.
"We've completed the investigation and ruled out it being an electrical fire," North Adams Fire Director Stephen A. Meranti said Tuesday. "At this time, we believe the most probable cause was improper disposal of smoking material."
Meranti said the fire began after a guest of one of the top-floor tenants flicked a cigarette butt off the porch.
"We believe that the wind caught it and blew it right back onto the porch," he said. "The fire was in between the top floor and the ceiling of the next floor down. We believe it went between a crack in the floorboards."
Meranti stressed that smokers should take steps to ensure smoking materials are extinguished.
"We recommend that you run all smoking materials under water or dispose of them in an ashtray," he said.
Though no one was injured in the fire at the historic eight-unit building, more than 40 firefighters responded to the scene with mutual aid called in from Adams, Clarksburg and Williamstown.
The American Red Cross found temporary housing for the displaced residents.
There was considerable damage to units in the building's north side, Meranti said, with water from the third floor damaging the apartments and tenants' possessions below.
Charles Swabey, the building owner, could not be reached for comment. Meranti estimated the damage to be in the area of $150,000.
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