Friday, November 4, 2011 - 5:26am
City of Madison fire investigators say the apparent cause of last night's fire at 1615 Summit Avenue is improperly discarded smoking materials. If so, it would be the second time this week that discarded smoking materials have started a fire on a wood balcony or porch.
On Monday, an apartment balcony fire at 3120 Maple Valley Dr. began after a guest at the third floor apartment stubbed out his cigarette in a potted plant on the balcony.
Workers at a nearby business called in the fire after they saw smoke from the balcony.
The fire damaged two balconies on the multi-family apartment building. Balconies on the second and third floor had fire damage, but the fire did not extend to the interior of the building.
Last night, Engine Company 4 responded to the fire on Summit at 5:35 p.m. after paramedics reported light smoke on the outside of the rear of the building.
Engine 4 found light smoke and flames on the exterior of a support post for the porch and balcony. The post construction of the porch consisted of multiple 2 x 4's nailed together, allowing the fire to travel up the interior of the post and into the porch ceiling.
Firefighters found an ash tray and cigarette butts on the ground next to the burned post. The area of the concrete that was not discolored by smoke, fire, or soot matched the size and shape of the ash tray.
The building is a house with three separate apartments. No one was injured.
The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents that smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.
•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.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947