A cigarette butt tossed into a trash can was not completely out, and a fire that it started did extensive damage to a Durham house Wednesday evening, firefighters said.
A fire department investigator determined the cause, Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said in a statement Thursday.
Firefighters who arrived at 7 Kimbrough Court shortly after 6 p.m. found flames coming from the left side of the house and the roof, Iannuzzi reported.
The fire was out 15 minutes after apparatus got there, but the left side of the house had heavy fire damage, and the rest had heat, smoke and water damage.
Four adults who lived in the house needed help from the Red Cross to find somewhere to stay, the statement said.
No one was hurt.
“Ashes from cigarettes, fireplaces, grills, and campfires may look like they are completely extinguished,” Iannuzzi said. Unless they are wetted to make sure they’re dead, they can start fires in combustible material from hours to sometimes days later, he added.
“ Within the past six months, we have had four serious fires related to improperly discarded cigarettes, grill ashes, or fireplace ashes,” Iannuzzi said.