The fire that destroyed a Freedom Drive home Wednesday night was "most likely" caused by the "improper disposal of wood stove ashes or cigarettes," Canton Fire Marshal Adam B. Libros said.
Libros determined the fire was accidental.
Libros said a container of ashes and garbage containing cigarette butts were both disposed of under a front deck near a walk-in basement. Libros was unable to determine what one of those heat sources ignited, making it difficult to know which one caused the fire.
"I can't rule out one or the other," he said.
Members of the town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department spent approximately 50 minutes fighting the blaze Wednesday night, which was fully involved on their arrival. It was called in shortly after 5 p.m. and tankers from other area departments responded to the scene as backup. Canton set up a portable pond for secondary water but in the end, firefighters had enough water from an area hydrant, Chief Richard Hutchings said.
The fire was burning for some time before the homeowner was alerted by the sound of a cracking window, Libros said.
"Fortunately no injuries were reported to either the homeowners or firefighters," Libros said.
The Red Cross was able to find shelter for the couple who lived in the home. The town of Canton Social and Senior Services Department is seeking temporary housing. See this previous post.
Thursday, building official Bill Rich condemned the home.
In light of the incident, Libros offered these tips for homeowners:
- Place ashes or smoking material in a non-combustible (metal) container. Locate the container away from any structures.
- Allow the contents to cool prior to disposal.
- Ashes can remain smoldering for days.
- Install and maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home. Change batteries twice a year. Replace alarms in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Have an escape plan. Know two ways out of each room in your home.
- Have a meeting place outside the home where family members can assemble to ensure everyone got out OK.
- Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.