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Improperly disposed cigarette butts caused Boise Bench fire that displaced six families

A two-alarm fire at the Curtis Meadow Apartments, at South Curtis and Overland roads, displaced six families. Nobody was injured.
A two-alarm fire at the Curtis Meadow Apartments, at South Curtis and Overland roads, displaced six families. Nobody was injured. doland@idahostatesman.com

A Boise Fire Department investigator announced that a fire that displaced six families at a Boise Bench apartment complex on Monday was caused by improper disposal of cigarette butts on the back porch of one of the units.

The butts were put out near a wicker chair and some other flammable materials, said Boise Fire spokeswoman Char Jackson.

The Boise Fire Department responded to a 1:37 a.m. call about a fire at the Curtis Meadow Apartments at South Curtis and Overland roads, according to Ada County dispatch.

The blaze affected the electrical panel for six homes in the 73-unit complex. Idaho Power told apartment managers Nelda and Paul Grogan that none of those tenants would be able to return until the panel is repaired.

Brenda Hambrick, who lives in a unit directly behind the two apartments that were most damaged, said she was awakened by someone banging on her door about 1:40 a.m.

“By the time I got out there it was already big,” Hambrick said. “It was like this loud popping sound.”

“It’s a really cool place to live,” added Hambrick, who has resided at the complex for two years. “Everyone gets along really well. This is a shocker. I feel so bad for those families.”

No one was injured.

The Boise Firefighters Burnout Fund and the American Red Cross are helping the families find places to stay.

To make a donation to the Burnout Fund, go to Fire.CityOfBoise.org and click on the Burnout Fund button on the left.

Dana Oland: 208-377-6442

How to prevent smoking-material related fires

▪  If you smoke, smoke outside.

▪  Whenever you smoke, use deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays. Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like an end table.

▪  Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out. Dowsing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

▪  Check under furniture cushions and in other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.

▪  Smoking should not be allowed in a home where medical oxygen is used.

▪  To prevent a deadly cigarette fire, you have to be alert. You won’t be if you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine or other drugs.

U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association study

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