Based on 2005-2009 incidents reported by Oregon fire agencies to the Office of State Fire Marshal, one in ten Oregon fires is started by cigarettes.
During 2005-2009, there were almost 6,400 cigarette fires in Oregon which resulted in 34 deaths, 133 injuries, and an estimated $20 million in property loss. The majority of deaths, injuries, and property loss in cigarette fires occurred on single- and multifamily housing (‘home’) properties.
Outside the Home
Almost half of all home structure fires caused by cigarettes originated on a patio, balcony, or exterior wall. In January 2010, a fire at a Tualatin apartment complex was caused by a cigarette butt being placed in a plastic container filled with potting soil on the back patio. The organic material caught fire and the flames spread to the apartment’s siding.
Inside the Home
Bedrooms are the most common area of origin for cigarette fires inside the home, being caused most often by improperly discarded cigarettes, falling asleep while smoking, smoking while using medical oxygen, or children playing with cigarettes.
Portland Fire & Rescue reminds community members of the following safety tips:
- If you smoke, smoke outside.
- Use deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table.
- Before you throw out butts and ashes, 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.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is being used.
- If you smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes. They are less likely to cause fires.
- 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.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of children's sight and reach.
If you smoke, put it out. All the way. Every time.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
March 4, 2011