Grainger Fire Caused by Discarded Cigarettes

Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 7:24am

City of Madison Fire Investigators have determined that Monday's fire at Grainger Hall on the UW Campus was caused by discarded smoking materials near the main entrance of the building at Park St. and University Ave.

Firefighters from Engine Company 4 arrived shortly after noon and noted smoke present in the conference room at the northeast corner of the building on the first floor (corner of University and Park). Upon entering this conference room, there was an "immediate odor of wood smoke and a slight haze."

It took awhile to trace the source of smoke in the conference room. The crew checked all rooms off the room and checked an area behind a fireplace without finding any source. Engine 4 found some smoke coming from underneath the wood covering of an exterior wall pillar on University Ave. side of building. Wood was pulled from this pillar.

At this point a member of another crew noted smoke and then flame exiting an expansion crack between the building and sidewalk
approximately 15 feet to the west of where Engine 4 had the pressurized smoke. The fire was doused with a foam extinguisher.

There were no injuries and the damage estimate was set at $10,000.

The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents:

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