Careless smoker sparked four-alarm fire in Cambridge

Reservoir Street fire in Cambridge

See it larger. Photo by John McMahon.

The Cambridge Fire Department reports "careless disposal of smoking materials on the rear porch" on the second floor caused a fire that heavily damaged the house at 54 Reservoir St. this morning.

John McMahon, a nearby resident, captured the scene at the fire and the nearby streets after firefighters from Cambridge and surrounding communities began arriving after 7:45 a.m.

Reservoir Street fire
Reservoir Street fire
Reservoir Street fire
Reservoir Street fire
Reservoir Street fire
Reservoir Street fire

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Oh, gross!

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This is horrible! I hope everybody in that house got out okay and that everybody survived, and nobody was hurt.

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Reason #2245 not to smoke, ever

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My landlord owns my house and the one nextdoor, about 12 feet away. Strict no smoking in the lease. I saw my next door neighbors standing on the porch smoking and emailed the landlord. Not because I disapprove of smoking from a heath standpoint (I do) or find cigarette smoke noxious (I do, too) but because I didn't want them setting their house on fire and having it jump the driveway. My roommates told me I shouldn't have but I stand by it.

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52

Does nicotine delusional behavior?

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It seems like it does.

I see kids hanging cigs outside a car thinking it will keep mom/dad from knowing that they were smoking in the car.

People fling lit butts everywhere, as if that made them vanish and cease to be either litter or fire hazard for their own homes.

People who think that standing at the end of a platform or in the vestibule on a commuter rail train makes their noxious habit not noticeable.

I know that people deride vaping, but at least vapers seem a bit less delusional about the purpose and hazards of their drug delivery devices.

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23

Someone would have to be

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Someone would have to be pretty delusional and dumb to take up smoking to begin with. And then the rest of us have to clean up their mess. Imagine losing your house and all of your belongings because of some morons disgusting habit?

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I don't understand why

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I don't understand why anybody under the age of 50 smokes. You grow up learning about lung cancer, emphysemia, and addiction, and still think it's a good idea to try it?

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21

Young smokers are like anti-vaccination loonatics

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Also like anti-seatbelt morons.

They didn't grow up seeing the horrific damage that happened before seatbelts came in or before people knew better about smoking.

People now age 45-60 dropped or kicked or didn't start that habit because they saw grandma die horribly and uncle Joe drop dead at age 45.

Like antivaxxer twits generally never saw the polio crippled or deaf-blinding due to measles or heard their parents talk about their best friend dying horribly from polio one summer, young smokers haven't seen their parents suffer the ill effects because their parents either never smoked or quit.

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Sure, they pay $10 a pack to

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Sure, they pay $10 a pack to get lung cancer, but the wrinkles, yellow skin, awful teeth, terrible smell and repulsive sounding voice are all free bonuses!

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Where is the NFPA.

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When will the NFPA start educating people about smoking outside on porches. Window boxes usually have a potting mixture which is flammable, mulch in your garden is flammable. It's been one fire after another involving careless disposed of cigarettes.

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Cambridge Fire

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Can you imagine the recommendation they'll receive from their landlord as they search for a new place to live?

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i'm not sure i would care (about the distinction)

as a landlord, nor as a tenant in an adjacent property

dont get it twisted, i personally don't care if people smoke regardless. it wafts in through my windows pretty frequently and it isn't my favorite smell, but ultimately there are worse things in life

as far as the fire hazard, well, it hasn't happened to me yet so, it is what it is. i've been logging ~150 miles a week on the bicycle now that the weather is nice and based on how people like to drive around anything on two wheels that will be my undoing before any fire.

Tobacco cigarettes are made to burn

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Somebody posted it a while back: if you don't keep puffing or flaming a joint, it goes out. Cigarettes are designed to stay lit.

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On what planet

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The Natural News lunatics called them "genocide against smokers!!!!!!".

Same stupid, different topic. They are better than what came before, but still won't go out as quickly as a joint will.

yeah....

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you have that backwards. Cigs are "fire-safe" now and go out if not dragged on. Could have been a hand rolled cigarette, a joint, or an imported cigarette (they are a lot cheaper in other countries, and there are savvy internet businesses helping "import" them here to avoid the heavy taxes).

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Careless smokers ....

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... are the main cause of house fires.
My home was damaged when it caught fire because the idiot next door left a lit cigarette in her overfilled ashtray. She and everyone in her building lost their homes and most of their belongings.

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Careless smokers ....

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... are the main cause of house fires.
My home was damaged when it caught fire because the idiot next door left a lit cigarette in her overfilled ashtray. She and everyone in her building lost their homes and most of their belongings.

How can people be so careless

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How can people be so careless! I would think, especially after what just happened not too long ago in Cambridge. Common sense isn't too common these days. So much damage for such a bad habit.

Smoking OUTDOORS is a major cause of house fires

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Full disclosure: I live on the same street, a block away from this fire, and my wife and I actually slept through it. I heard the news helicopters hovering above, and wondered what was going on, but decided to sleep in anyway. We heard no sirens.

Also in the full disclosure department, my wife and I have made many friends in the Cambridge Fire Department over the years. While many of them are now retired, some are still active.

After we woke up on Tuesday, and saw the news online about this fire, we walked up the street to where the Fire Department was starting to pack up their hoses, and chatted with some of our friends on CFD who had responded to it. They told us that the fire had started on the back porch, 2nd floor; and it was quite clear from the burn patterns that the porch was indeed the origin point. While we were watching, someone from the Fire Investigation Unit started sifting through the charred floorboards on the deck.

In the driveway below the deck, I saw the debris that had been thrown off the deck earlier: the metal frame of an outdoor deck chair, its plastic or cloth covering burned away; and a small, charred metal bucket that had obviously been next to the chair on the deck.

I thought immediately, why would someone have a small bucket next to their chair? Of course! It was an impromptu ashtray.

I have read in various fire magazines and online sources, that outdoor smoking and careless disposal of butts is now one of the leading causes of structure fires in Massachusetts,

With increasing stigmas being attached to smoking, people are choosing not to smoke indoors, so they go outside to the deck or the back yard. And when they're done, they either toss the butt or use some sort of informal "ashtray" that isn't suited for the purpose. After all, they're outside, what harm could that butt do?

The butt may end up in dry mulch and start smoldering, leading to a fire that isn't discovered until it flares up hours later.

Potted plants are often used as ashtrays, even though they are completely unsuited to that use due to the inherent flammability of dry soil and root material.

In our West Cambridge neighborhood I am aware of at least FIVE fires started by outside smoking over the last 12 or 14 years or so, this one being the fifth. Two of the others were as destructive as this one; one of those did significant damage to three three-deckers. (All three of these disastrous fires were discovered in the early morning, hours after the butt had been tossed.) The other two were limited just to damage to the deck and adjacent walls.

There have been at least two cases in the North Shore where large, relatively new apartment buildings were completely gutted by fires started in adjacent mulch. And there was a law office on Boston's waterfront, Commercial Wharf, gutted when a worker tossed the butt off the deck into the ocean, unaware that a sea breeze blew it back onto a lower deck.

Oh yes, and don't forget the construction worker's butt that ignited the 10-alarm conflagration in East Cambridge last December that incinerated 18 buildings.

The Mass. Fire Marshal's office has tried to educate people about this danger, but the message hasn't gotten through, largely because it hasn't been picked up by the media. To many people, the message sounds so ridiculous that it's just not believable -- even though it's true.

Yes, smoking outdoors is now a major cause of building fires.