COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) — The College Station Fire Department said Sunday that discarded smoking materials may have been the cause of a fire that swept through an apartment building on Harvey Road Saturday night.
“The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it may have been tobacco waste,” Chief Richard Mann said.
The fire destroyed several apartments in a Sundance Apartments building at 811 Harvey Road, between Dartmouth Street and Stallings Drive.
There are sixteen apartments in the building where the fire started and investigators believe it started in one of the second floor apartments.
“Two houses were destroyed and 14 dwellings were affected. We are now working with the tenants and the apartment manager to relocate the displaced people. We are providing financial assistance to tenants of destroyed units,” said AJ Renold, executive director of the local American Red Cross chapter.
“We actually got to the scene within two minutes from when we were dispatched to when we got there and in just a few minutes that you saw on the video we were able to figure out how quickly this fire developed in just a few minutes. said College Station Fire Chief Richard Mann.
The Bryan Fire Department, College Station Police Department and CSFD Community Response Team all responded to the fire which began around 11:00 p.m. Saturday.
Chief Mann said what made the fire difficult was that it started in the middle of a building that shares a rooftop space.
“Once the fire started in the middle of the building, on the second floor, and entered the attic, it immediately had a lot of building to walk in both directions, but our crews did a good job of containing it. to the middle of this structure,” said Chief Mann.
The wind also complicated firefighting efforts.
One person was slightly injured, according to first responders.
A total of 33 emergency personnel were at the scene, Chief Mann said.
Discarded smoking objects can sometimes be cigarettes, ashes, cigars or other similar objects.
The same is believed to have started the fire at the Chicken Oil Company in Bryan last weekend. Firefighters said the restaurant blaze likely started during an ash test outside and wind may have played a part.
It is important for smokers to know the steps they can take to protect themselves and their families from fire.
- Never smoke in bed as mattresses and bedding can easily catch fire.
- Douse cigarette butts and ashes thoroughly with water before disposing of them, as they can burn and cause a fire.
- Use ashtrays with wide bases so they don’t tip over and start a fire.
- Don’t smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
- Check the furniture for any falling ashes before going to bed.
- Empty the ashes into a fireproof container with water and sand.
- Keep smoking materials away from anything that can burn.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is nearby. Even if the oxygen is cut off, it can still catch fire.
- To avoid a deadly cigarette fire, you must be vigilant. Do not smoke after taking medications that make you tired.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and out of reach of children.
Smoking materials, including cigarettes, pipes and cigars, started about 17,200 house fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2014, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires caused 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries and $426 million in direct property damage. Smoking products caused 5% of reported home fires, 21% of home fire deaths, 10% of home fire injuries, and 6% of direct property damage.
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