Via the Office of the State Fire Marshal
NORTH READING – North Reading Fire Chief Donald Stats, North Reading Police Chief Michael P. Murphy, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the December 8, 2020 fire at 30 Lowell Road in North Reading was the improper use or disposal of smoking materials. Three people were rescued from the single-family home. Damage is estimated at $50,000.
The fire originated on a side porch where several of the residents frequently smoked and disposed of cigarettes in a plastic planter adjacent to the building. Other possible causes were ruled out.
Chief Stats said, “Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire, where time is your enemy. It is crucial to respond immediately to that early warning as you may have less than three minutes to escape the average house fire.” He added, “Practice your home escape plan. Make sure you have and know two ways out of every room and have a meeting place outside.”
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Smoking is a leading cause of fire deaths. Learn to be a responsible smoker. Put it out. All the way. Every time.” He added, “Use a large sturdy ashtray and empty it into a metal container with sand or water; don’t use plastic containers or dried out potted plants that can catch fire.”
The Department of Fire Services has a public awareness campaign on the proper disposal of smoking materials that can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/smoking-fire-safety. It includes an English and a Spanish public service announcement designed to communicate this important fire safety message in a humorous way.
North Reading investigators, North Reading detectives and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal jointly investigated this fire.