Tuesday, December 22, 2009 - 8:48am
A fire scene investigation revealed that Sunday's fire at 444 Hawthorne Court was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials. The fire caused approximately $25,000 damage to the second floor apartment, its contents, and surrounding units in the building.
Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 8:51 AM and extinguished the fire within seven minutes of their arrival. Other occupants in the building heard the smoke alarm sounding in the fire apartment and were able to evacuate quickly. Nobody was injured by the fire or smoke.
The property owner credits the new tamper resistant smoke alarms with a 10-year battery for insuring the occupants received early warning of the fire. She stated that batteries can be easily removed from standard smoke alarms, rendering them useless in a fire. This is not possible with tamper-resistant alarms that meet the city's smoke alarm ordinance. The outcome of Sunday's fire could have been much worse without functioning smoke alarms.
Firefighters remind everyone of these 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.
• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and outside each bedroom. Interconnected smoke alarms will make sure the alarm is heard throughout the home.
• Test your smoke alarms every month.
• Have a home escape plan and practice it twice a year.
- Eric Dahl, 608-279-7148