A rash of recent fires in the Boston area were caused by careless disposal of smoking materials, according to officials.
Over the course of five days last month, three big fires in Boston had the same cause. And it's getting worse.
"In the last two years, in 2014 and 2015, we had an average of 55 or 56 fires caused by discarded smoking materials," said Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn. "This year alone, we've had over 50, so you can see in the first seven months of this year, we've had a significant increase in the number of fires caused by discarded smoking materials."
No one was hurt, but the damage in East Boston is significant, estimated at $10 million and leaving 23 units uninhabitable, displacing 54 people. All of the fires started outside. In two of them, investigators determined the butts were flicked off a higher porch to one down below. "We've been in a significant heat wave," Finn said. "We haven't had a lot of rain so there's a lot of dry brush, leaves, rubbish, material accumulating under these porches. It doesn't take much — a cigarette with a little wind or a little anything to get that debris going."
The commissioner says smokers should have a cup of water or sand nearby and use that to make sure their cigars or cigarette butts are fully extinguished.