Incident Type: 
Thursday, May 18, 2023 - 3:36pm
Thursday, May 18, 2023 - 3:40pm
4300 block Melody Lane
Madison, WI

A pair of fires in one day were the result of cigarettes that were not discarded in proper receptacles. Each fire was caught quickly by occupants, but one household was temporarily displaced due to fire-related damage.

At 3:36 p.m., east side firefighters were dispatched to 4322 Melody Lane for a report of a home full of smoke and an “ashtray” burning. A tenant explained to firefighters she had been smoking on the balcony prior to leaving home approximately two hours earlier. Prior to leaving, she put her cigarette out and placed it in a red plastic coffee container she used as an ashtray. Upon returning home around 3:30 p.m., she found charring on the outside of the building, signaling a fire that spread from the plastic container. She threw water on the fire, and there was no active flames when fire crews arrived, but Engine 8 did cool hot spots with water. The occupant and her son were temporarily displaced due to damage related to the fire.

At 11:04 p.m., west side firefighters were called to 9321 Glencoe Drive for another fire on the deck of an apartment. Engine Co. 12 arrived to find flames showing from an exterior patio and the resident of the apartment unit was in the process of extinguishing the fire. The fire originated in a plastic planter, where firefighters noted an accumulation of used cigarette butts discarded among plant soil and other organic material. There was no fire extension beyond the planter box. The patio was made of poured concrete, limiting the spread of fire.

Both incidents serve as a reminder about the importance of discarding smoking materials in proper receptacles. Smoking-related fires have the potential to spread quickly when coming in contact with exterior building siding and other materials, especially if the patio or balcony is not protected by automatic fire sprinklers. Always be sure to:

  • Discard your cigarettes in a proper container that won’t catch on fire. Use an approved ashtray, metal coffee canister, or a bucket with sand.
  • Put your cigarette out all the way. Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are totally extinguished before placing them in the trash.
  • Empty your ashtray often so cigarette butts don’t pile up. Even if you throw your cigarettes in a proper receptacle, the butts can still catch on fire, especially if the receptacle is full.
Posted 05/19/2023 - 11:41am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)