Four-alarm fire caused by a careless smoker rips through two-family house in Forest Hills

Massive Forest Hills fire. Photo by BofoHouse.Massive Forest Hills fire. Photo by BofoHouse.

The Boston Fire Department reports a four-alarm fire that erupted around 1 p.m. at 306 South Street displaced six people and sent two firefighters to the hospital, one with a foot injury and one with facial burns.

The fire did an estimated $350,000 damage, the department says. The cause: Careless disposal of a cigarette:

Specifically, there was a couch of the first floor porch on the Asticou St. side of the house. This is the point of origin.

Although no human residents were hurt, EMTs did give oxygen to a cat at the scene.



Free tagging: 


Globe says it was started by a cigarette on a couch

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Yet another fire started by assholes who smoke.

Are they going to pay for the damage to those cars?

Are they going to give the displaced people somewhere to stay?

Are they going to replace the destroyed belongings?

Are they going to help that injured firefighter?

No, no, and no.

Is it time we passed a city law making smokers 100% responsible for any damages or injuries/deaths resulting from their disgusting, harmful behavior?

Is it time we passed a city law banning smoking in any shared housing buildings - ie apartments, condos, dorms, etc?

Yes and yes.


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Smoking helps you relax, and you sound like you need it.
We don't need any Bloombergs around here, thank you.

Smoking in a shared building/condo/apt is irresponsible..

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at best, and harmful to both the smoker and the people surrounding him at the very worst. Frankly, I think that the person who caused the fire by careless smoking should be held responsible and be required to help recompense the people who were displaced in that horrific fire in some ways or other.


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You're making a blanket statement. That's like banning pit bulls because some people got bit by one. Smoking by and of itself is perfectly harmless. Combine it with other risky behaviors though and, just like candles, it can be a problem. Before you say "Yeah but second hand..." Shut up, I don't care. If you smoked it would be first hand smoke and then you wouldn't need to worry about second hand smoke.

Smoking, when done responsibly, is not a fire hazard anymore than a backyard BBQ (you just don't use it on a wooden deck), a candle (don't light them and leave them burning while you sleep or aren't sitting at the dinner table), etc.

But OK, here are some of my own blanket statements or ideas:

1. Don't use couches outside on the porch. It's not just a fire hazard, they can get infested with critters, and it just looks tacky.

2. And following up on the tacky, don't use non-leather couches. Cloth upholstered furniture is ugly and the potential injury to the eyeballs is far more dangerous than anything else. Also leather is less likely to ignite.

3. Don't smoke cigarettes coated in fire accelerators. Most major brands of cigarettes (for example Marlboro or Camel) soak the tobacco in fuel so it burns faster. Tobacco only cigarettes go out almost right away when not being actively inhaled every few seconds (for example American Spirit or self rolled). They also last longer so you enjoy them more.

4. Don't smoke and hold it in your hand unless you are actively engaging in things that prevent you from falling asleep. When not inhaling set it down in those notches ashtrays have just for that purpose. Smoking in a bed or on a couch is just silly anyhow, if you're awake you should be at your computer working.

I don't consider it a blanket statement at all, BlackKat.

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Moreover, trying to relate smoking bans inside residential buildings to the banning of pitbulls is pure poppycock...and rather off the subject, to boot.

If somebody owns a building and s/he rents out to people, it's up to the landlord/landlady to implement rules against smoking, if s/he wants to, and the property owner has every justifiable right to ban smoking inside their building. If a person needs or wants to smoke, they should go to a designated smoking area (which I'm sure there are plenty of around), and definitely not smoke when they're sleepy, drunk, or, just in general, feeling under the weather.

The smoker probably doesn't

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The smoker probably doesn't have enough money to compensate the other tenants. Sadly, through no fault of their own, the other tenants are going to be out a lot of money. Hopefully everyone had renter's insurance, otherwise they are screwed.

Having lived through a building fire caused by a tenant's negligence, I can tell you that we didn't see a dime from the person who caused the fire. Fortunately we had been paying for excellent insurance coverage for years so we were only out about $10,000 when all was said and done. Others in the building had no insurance, lost everything, had no where to live, and had to file for bankruptcy. Assessments for people who owned condos in the building were as high as $40,000 after the fire. The person who unintentionally caused the fire, a student, was sued by her landlord. Not sure what came of that.

Why the condo assessments?

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Why the condo assessments? Wouldn't the master insurance policy cover any damage to the building?

The master insurance policy

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The master insurance policy didn't cover all of it. There were several lawsuits filed against the condo trustees by a small number of unit owners which dragged on and on. All of the unit owners had to pay assessments to cover the legal bills on that. Also, the building, which is old and therefore had been grandfathered in on many code requirements, had to be brought up to code which cost a fortune.

Basic responsibility

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How is it that asking people to be responsible for the consequences of their actions is "Bloomberg"?

I smoke occasionally for that

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I smoke occasionally for that reason, and so do my roommates, but we do so outside. It's really not that difficult. It's way safer and our apartment and the rest of our 6 unit building doesn't stink.


But, the BFD says a bit differently.

From the Herald, "Officials said they received the call for the fire about 1:15 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief Jay Fleming said he suspected the fire started on a porch and quickly spread to all floors of the home, including the attic."

Globe: "“It doesn’t happen that often, but when you have an upholstered couch on the front porch, you might as well have a can of gasoline on the front porch,” Fleming said.

BFD is saying "may" have been caused by a cigarette. So calm down.

In other important news...when I logged on, I found out I have been a : "Member for 5 years 30 min."

Check the BFD Twitter feed

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Which I think they updated after talking to reporters. No "may" there - they say it was a cigarette in a couch.

The Google Street View

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The Google street view photo of that building shows two porches, each with a grill. It's amazing that a cigarette caused the fire before either of the grills had a chance to.

I moved out of my apartment in JP as soon as new tenants moved in who were smokers and porch-grilling enthusiasts. Those old triple-deckers are enough of a fire hazard already.

While it is possible for

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While it is possible for someone to do something stupid with a grill, I've never seen or heard of a fire jumping out of a grill. I've grilled on porches before, it's not difficult to do safely.