BEND, Ore. - A wind-whipped fire that caused more than $100,000 damage to a northwest Bend home late Monday afternoon was traced to cigarette butts disposed of in a plastic flower pot on the back deck, investigators said.
Firefighters were called around 4:10 p.m. to the reported fire spreading on the back deck of a home at 20634 Shetland Loop, said Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki.
Strong winds spread the fire through the attic, also threatening a neighboring home before crews were able to stop its spread and extinguish it, Derlacki said.
An investigation found that the home's occupants had smoked on the back deck earlier in the afternoon. The cigarette butts were improperly disposed of in a plastic flower pot full of combustible material, Derlacki said. The fire spread from the pot to the side of the house and up into the attic.
Losses were estimated at $100,000 to the structure, valued at $150,000, and $10,000 worth of the contents valued at $50,000.
More than a dozen firefighters were called out, while Redmond firefighters came to Bend to help cover fire stations and Bend police provided traffic control.
The Red Cross was called in to assist the displaced residents.
"The Bend Fire Department reminds everyone to dispose of cigarette and other smoking materials properly, especially as we head into the hot summer months," Derlacki said in a news release.
"Cigarette-caused fire is one of the leading causes of fires, both structural and wildfires, for the Bend Fire Department. Simple steps can prevent such fires at your home, in parks, along walkways and at work. Here are a few tips on proper disposal of smoking materials:
- Improperly disposed of cigarette butts cause many fires in Bend and in Oregon every year. These start brush, decks and homes on fire on a regular basis but are very preventable.
- Dispose of smoking material into a non-combustible (metal or clay) container.
- You can fill the container with sand or water to help extinguish the smoking materials but remember to ensure there is always water in the container and the sand can be seen and not obstructed by too many butts.
- Before disposing of the materials, ensure they are cool to the touch.
- Empty the cool smoking materials regularly to reduce the buildup of materials. The smoking materials themselves can become the combustibles the next cigarette butt ignites if not emptied regularly.
- Local disposal companies do not want hot ashes dumped in their trash containers as this can lead to a fire in the garbage truck or landfill.
More on cigarette disposal: http://www.bendoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1016
More safety information can be found at bendoregon.gov/fire – click on the Safety Information tab on the left side of the page.