A Bend police community liaison officer found a fire burning the exterior of an unoccupied northeast Bend home Sunday afternoon and used a portable extinguisher to douse the small blaze before it could spread inside, fire officials said.

Firefighters responded shortly before 2 p.m. to the fire at 2014 NE Holiday Avenue, north of St. Charles Medical Center, a home owned by Tom Gardner and rented by Mark Llewellyn, said fire Capt. Karl Findling.

The officer stopped the spread of the fire into the building and it was out when fire crews arrived, he said. They checked for spread to the interior of the home, forcing entry and then re-securing it while waiting for residents to return.

Findling said the fire was found to have been caused by improper disposal of cigarettes into a combustible container. Damage was limited to the siding and electrical wiring directly behind the destroyed container.

Losses were estimated at $2,500.

Firefighters issued a reminder for smokers to use non-combustible containers filled with sand and even water to completely douse any remaining heat. Daytime heating and direct sunlight can reheat combustibles, so Findling urged residents to put ashtrays away from combustibles such as grass and wood.

He also reminded residents to maintain smoke alarms with back-up batteries, even if they are hard-wired.