A discarded cigarette appears to be the cause of an early morning fire at an apartment complex for low-income individuals in the 300 block of Hamilton near Minute Maid Park. The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to an automatic alarm about 3:45 a.m. and arrived within six minutes to find smoke coming from the second floor of a building. The sprinkler system contained the fire and the incident was tapped out just after 4 a.m. Approximately 30 firefighters responded to the fire which caused about $7 thousand in damage. There were no reported injuries.
Although there were no injuries resulting from this fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA),smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
Cigarettes can smolder for hours, starting a fire hours later. To help prevent such a tragedy, the HFD and NFPA recommend the following safety tips:
- Always have a working smoke detector
- To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.
- If you smoke, smoke outside, however use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy surface.
- Before you throw out the butts and ashes from ashtrays, make sure they are out, and dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.
- Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.
- Always, keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.