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Cigarette blamed for fatal condo fire in Spokane Valley

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Valley Fire investigators concluded that an improperly disposed cigarette caused Sunday night's deadly fire at the Central Park Condominiums on East 6th Avenue.

Howard Holmes, 81, died in the fire which damaged 15 condo units. Kxly reached out to the SVFD Tuesday, asking what unit that cigarette came from. A public information officer was unable to provide further details at the time.

Just three weeks earlier, improperly discarded cigarettes on an upper deck caused a fire that completely 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 N. 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 E. Montgomery Avenue after his cigarette ignited paper on the floor. And on January 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 N. 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 continued. “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.


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