Sprinkler system limits cigarette fire damage at Liberty Lake apartment complex

Cigarettes in an ashtray
FreeImages.com/Vivek Chugh

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — The Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to a fire at the Bitterroot Apartments Wednesday night, which was extinguished by a functioning sprinkler system.

They received multiple calls of smoke and visible flames on the second floor of the apartments, with one caller speculating that it was a barbecue fire.

Upon arrival, firefighters saw light smoke on the second floor deck, but confirmed that the fire was extinguished.

Spokane Valley Fire Inspector Brett Anderson determined that residents were throwing out cigarettes into a cardboard box on the deck, which caught fire before an automatic sprinkler system put it out.

“Sprinklers work!” said Anderson, stressing the importance of having a working sprinkler system.

“Fire sprinklers are an effective method to mitigate fire damage,” said Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Greg Rogers. “They allow individuals the opportunity to escape a burning structure. You have about a 50% chance [to escape] compared to an 80% chance in a structure with a sprinkler system.”

The Fire Department has seen a rise in incorrect cigarette disposal over the past few months and recommends discarding cigarettes in clean metal paint cans.