Cigarette caused blaze, fire officials report

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A Friday afternoon house fire in Vancouver’s Sunnyside neighborhood was sparked by a cigarette discarded in a flammable container, according to county fire investigators.

The container, made of plastic with a metal top, was next to the back of the house outside and contained several cigarette butts.

The fire at 9311 N.E. 96th St. was reported by neighbors at 12:36 p.m. Friday. Flames ran up the exterior and got into the attic and garage, said Deputy Fire Marshal Curtis Eavenson.

Nobody was hurt.

Damage to the ranch-style house and its contents was estimated at $75,000. Fire caused the kitchen ceiling to collapse, and there was smoke and fire damage throughout the home, said Vancouver Fire Department Capt. Kevin Murray.

Cigarette fires can begin smoldering when butts and trash accumulate in a flammable container. One way to minimize such fires is to switch to fire-safe cigarettes, which are supposed to self-extinguish after being left unattended, though they’re not fool-proof, Eavenson warned.

Eavenson also urges smokers to discard cigarette butts in noncombustible containers filled with sand, and clean these containers frequently.