ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- A fire in a Watervliet apartment building started when a resident attempted to throw out a lit cigarette which instead ended up in a pet bed. The fire displaced approximately 20 people.
Although the percentage of adults who smoke has decreased by about half, residential fires from smoking were the leading cause of home fire deaths between 2012-2016 in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
In that five-year period, on average 590 people died yearly in home fires that were started by smoking materials, based on an NFPA report released in January 2019. Another 1,130 people were injured.
A yearly average of 18,100 structure fires from smoking was also reported during that time, causing a total of $2.38 billion in property damage or $476 million annually.
Between 1980-1984 the highest percentage of home fires from smoking occurred in a bedroom, 39%. The second-highest percentage of home fires caused by smoking was in living rooms, 28%. Smoking fires that started on a balcony or unenclosed porch made up only 1%.
This was significantly different from 2012-2016. The highest percentage of home fires from smoking started on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, 18%. While the second-highest percentage of smoking-related fires began in a bedroom, 15%.
Origin of home fires from smoking materials 2012-2016
|Exterior balcony/unenclosed porch||18%|
|Courtyard, terrace, or patio||6%|
|Unclassified outside area||6%|
|Exterior wall surface||5%|
|Kitchen or cooking area||5%|
|Garage or vehicle storage area||4%|
|Bathroom or lavatory||4%|
|Trash, or rubbish chute, area, or container||4%|
Origin of home fires from smoking materials 1980-1984
|Exterior balcony/unenclosed porch||1%|
|Courtyard, terrace, or patio||0%|
|Unclassified outside area||0%|
|Exterior wall surface||1%|
|Kitchen or cooking area||7%|
|Garage or vehicle storage area||2%|
|Bathroom or lavatory||3%|
|Trash, or rubbish chute, area, or container||3%|
An increase in smoking fires that started outside of homes was a trend seen in 2012-2016 compared to 1980-1984. From 2012-2016 smoking fires that started in a courtyard, terrace, patio, outside are or exterior stairs made up a combined 16%. The percentage from 1980-1984 was zero.
To prevent a fire like the one that happened in Watervliet, the United States Fire Administration suggests:
- Smoking outside
- Putting cigarettes out entirely all the time
- Avoid smoking when taking medication that can cause drowsiness
- Avoid smoking around medical oxygen
- Avoid smoking in bed
- Use an ashtray or bucket with sand to put cigarettes out.