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Official: Cigarette To Blame for Springs Fire

Fire marshal says 20 minutes may have gone by from when the cigarette was smoldering in an ash can to when it was a strong blaze.

A smoldering cigarette caused a blaze at a Springs house last week, according to the 's office.

Tom Baker, who led the investigation, said he believes that a cigarette that had been put out in an ash can caught something on fire that caused flames to rip through .

The homeowner, who awoke to the fire, was treated for minor smoke inhalation. According to Baker, the man tried to grab a garden hose to spray at the flames, taking in some smoke, and then thought better of it and left the house.

A neighbor had spotted the flames and called 911, alerting the at 8:36 p.m. The fire was quickly extinguished, though it had gutted the garage and damaged an adjacent pantry/mud room area.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries during the fire, according to Fire Chief John Claflin. Neither firefighter was transported to the hospital.

"We feel it was an errant cigarette," Baker said. "What we discovered was there was one smoker in the house — not the homeowner — who wasn't there at the time. We understand he tossed a cigarette into an ash can in the garage."

Baker said the garage was relatively new, had been built to code, and was sealed off well from the rest of the house. "Fire can go undetected for a while," he said. The flames eventually did travel through a pet door from the garage into the pantry area.

The rest of the house received extensive smoke and soot damage. The homeowner is not able to live there right now, Baker said.

He pointed to a study that was once done that shows a cigarette can take 20 minutes from the time its smoldering to a strong fire. He said his investigation points to the timing being pretty accurate.

"The fire department did a great stop on that one, they really did," Baker said. "Smoking is no good."

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