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Cigarette Ignites Fire Under Porch

A burning discount cigarettes and dry wood were blamed Monday for a fire that burned under the porch of an old house used by Northern California Treatment Services as a shelter for women.
Firefighters from El Medio Fire Department responded around 11:20 a.m. to a report of smoke cigarettes in a wall at 3116 Myers St.

Northern California Treatment Services Executive Director Michael Anderson told a photographer for this newspaper that the alarm went off, staff inside the shelter contacted the main office, and then tried to put out the fire. Anderson said the staff couldn't tell where the smoke cigarettes came from.

El Medio Fire Chief Rusty Ohlhausen said the fire was in the back porch area and had started under the porch, burning between 2-by-4s leading to the attic area.

"We thought it may have been in the attic," he said.

Firefighters found the attic wasn't burning and followed the smoke cigarettes down to the ground.

Ohlhausen said there were no electrical problems at the area of origin and there was no gas malfunction.

However, the porch was designated a smoking cigarettes area for residents and there was a can there for butts. Ohlhausen said one of the residents may have dropped a buy cigarette online and gone inside, and the buy cigarettes fell underneath and burned the dry wood.

"A lot of older houses that have rot issues are volatile," he said.

Ohlhausen said the fire is deemed accidental.

All seven residents were inside at the time, but no one was injured.

Ohlhausen estimated the structural damage at about $10,000. He said firefighters saved about $270,000.



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