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TVF&R issues reminder about cigarette fire safety

Smoking is a leading cause of residential fire deaths in Oregon


Over the last three and a half years, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue has responded to nearly 500 fires caused by cigarettes, resulting in one death and more than $2.2 million in property loss.

Recently, TVF&R fire investigators determined that spent cigarettes that had been improperly discarded were the cause of a two-alarm apartment fire in Tigard. And while the cause of the recent Camassia Preserve brush fire in West Linn cannot be officially determined, there was evidence of cigarette butts in the area.

These fires have prompted TVF&R to remind the public to “put it out, all the way out, every time,” and to take the following preventative measures when smoking:

  • Extinguish and discard cigarettes in a metal or glass ashtray or appropriate metal container.
  • Consider soaking cigarettes in water before discarding.
  • Do not allow butts to build up in an ashtray — they are combustible material for cigarettes still burning.
  • Do not use plant containers as an ashtray. Potting soil contains organic material and has the potential to ignite.
  • Do not toss smoking materials into landscaping or onto the roadway.
  • Never smoke in bed or when drowsy.
  • Tragically, smoking is a leading cause of residential fire deaths in Oregon, even though 83 percent of Oregonians do not smoke. One out of every four people killed in home fires were not the smoker whose cigarette caused the fire. One third of those deaths included children, and one out of every five deaths caused by cigarette fires involves smoking while using medical oxygen, according to TVF&R.

    Beginning in 2003, the Coalition for Fire Safe Cigarettes was successful in requiring cigarette manufacturers to use fire-safe technology for cigarettes sold in the United States. Today, all 50 states have passed fire-safe cigarette legislation. It is important to note that just because a cigarette is designed to have a reduced propensity to burn when left unattended, does not mean it is “fire proof.” The burning tip of a cigarette, if not completely extinguished, is enough to ignite dry material such as vegetation, garbage and even other cigarette butts.



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