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Fire Marshal Deems Cigar Cause of Clearwater Blaze

A cigar smoldered for hours before flames awoke the homeowner inside a Waterhole Road house on Sunday.

Investigators are blaming a smoldering cigar for the fire that broke out on the deck of a house in Springs on Sunday morning.

East Hampton Town Fire Marshal Tom Baker said a discarded cigar blew onto the wood deck, catching the decking, cedar shingles and even some unused fireplace logs on fire.

Just two weeks ago, a fire broke out in a garage in a Harrison Avenue house in Springs due to a cigarette that had not been properly put out.

Baker said the owner of the waterfront house at 180 Waterhole Road, in the Clearwater Beach area, smoked a cigar and placed the butt of it in an ash tray late that night. "There was a gentle breeze that night, just enough to get it going," Baker said.

He thinks the remnants of the cigar got wedged in between the wood decking and took several hours for the fire to grow, extending up the side of the house to the metal roof.

The homeowner awoke to a crackling sound that he first thought was a deer in the garden, Baker said. The smoke detectors had not gone off yet, as the fire was on the exterior. "He did have smoke detectors and when we got there they were going off," Baker said, adding that by that time a large glass window had blown out sending smoke inside the house.

Springs Fire Department Chief John Claflin said on Sunday that his department received the call at 4:46 a.m. He said the homeowner had tried to extinguish the fire with a garden hose, helping to save the house from more damage.

Two engines, one tanker truck, and an ambulance responded to the call and firefighters quickly knocked down the blaze.

According to Baker, there was some smoke and water damage to the interior. Firefighters had to cut some holes in the Sheetrock to reach the fire that went in between the metal roof and ceiling, he said.

The house, which overlooks Hog Creek, is listed for sale with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate for $3.495 million.

How do you make sure your cigarettes and cigars are properly discarded? Have any advice for others? Tell us in the comments below.

Jeff Miller September 21, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I will preface my comments with the facts that I am a former Chief of the Springs Fire Department and am currently a Suffolk County Deputy Fire Coordinator. There are a couple of acceptable ways to extinguish a spent cigarette or cigar butt. One way is to hold under the faucet until it is completely saturated and another option is to have a bowl or bucket filled with sand and completely bury the butt in sand. And of course the other option is not to smoke at all
Taylor K. Vecsey September 21, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Thank you, Jeff! I hope everyone heeds your advice.

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