Spokane Valley Fire Department investigators have concluded that an improperly discarded cigarette caused the two-alarm fire in the Central Park condominiums, 6019 E. Sixth Ave. on Sunday.
The fire killed the elderly male occupant of the apartment where the fire started and damaged 15 units in the 69-unit structure before firefighters stopped the blaze, said Melanie Rose, SVFD spokeswoman.
Just three weeks earlier, improperly discarded cigarettes on an upper deck caused a fire that destroyed a single-family home in the 1300 block of South Wright Drive in Liberty Lake. The residence was fully involved in fire when firefighters arrived.
Despite steep terrain and dry brush conditions, firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring homes and brush.
“These fires were absolutely preventable,” said SVFD Fire Marshal Greg Rogers. “Here in the Spokane Valley Fire Department, we continue to see fires caused by careless smoking. In fact, all our significant fires in 2018 have been smoking-related.”
On April 20, improper disposal of cigarettes on the back deck caused a house fire in the 1100 block of North Girard Road. A woman sleeping inside the residence escaped safely after a tree pruner working next door spotted the fire and banged on her door.
“On March 14, an elderly man was rescued by maintenance workers from his burning apartment in the 9400 block of East Montgomery Avenue after his cigarette ignited paper on the floor.
And on Jan. 26, an elderly woman was pulled to safety by a neighbor after her cigarette smoking and oxygen (O2) use caught her apartment on fire in the 500 block of North Pines Road.
“Especially during the current hot, dry conditions, citizens are strongly urged to pay attention and be aware about where you are disposing of your cigarettes,” Rogers said. “Like fireplace ashes, cigarette ashes can smolder for days before they catch fire.”
Important safety reminders for smokers:
• Potting soil is flammable – it is not dirt. It is made of highly flammable peat moss.
• Plastic coffee “cans” are flammable – they are not metal and will eventually melt
• Oxygen is flammable – fire can burn through six feet of oxygen tubing in about 60 seconds
• Working smoke alarms save lives – replace smoke alarms after 10 years.