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Common Preventable Fire Causes in Portland: Improperly Discarded Smoking Materials


In 2009, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to 1,663 fires that were determined by PF&R investigators to be accidental, or more accurately ‘preventable’.  According to PF&R investigators, top causes include:

  • Kitchen fires
  • Spontaneous combustion
  • Improperly discarded smoking materials
  • Power strips
  • Portable heaters
  • Candles


The focus of this blog is on improperly discarded smoking materials.  Improperly discarded smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) is one of the leading causes of fire in the U.S. and contributes to millions of dollars in property damage each year, injuries, residents being displaced, and sometimes death.  

Fires caused by smoking materials often smolder, sometimes for hours before the first flame.  The most common materials to first ignite are mattresses and bedding, followed by trash and upholstered furniture.  Users should always be careful when disposing of cigarette butts and other smoking materials and use appropriate containers such as ashtrays or other non-combustible receptacles.


Smoking Safety Tips

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never smoke when tired or drowsy.
  • Never smoke or have open flame around medical oxygen.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays for smoking debris, and keep these ashtrays on a steady surface.
  • When emptying ashtrays, dowse them with cold water before discarding contents.
  • Keep matches and lighters stored out of the reach of children.

It is important to note that outside fires involving discarded smoking materials are also dangerous and a single discarded cigarette can lead to a large wildfire. 




  Portland Fire & Rescue We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

  July 7, 2010


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