A cigarette left smoldering in a patio flowerpot was the cause of a two-alarm house fire on Monday night in Eagan, according to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott.
The fire damaged the patio, siding and attic of a home at 4715 Narvik Dr., and left four roommates living in the building homeless while crews repair roof joists weakened by the flames, Scott said. No one was injured in the blaze, which began just before 8 p.m.
A total of 40 firefighters from four stations were on scene until 9:42 p.m., Scott said. Though the fire started on the patio, flames spread up the vinyl siding outside of the building, then swept through a portion of the home's attic space.
Scott called the fire "very preventable" and urged Eagan residents to properly dispose of cigarette butts. In the last six months, Eagan firefighters have responded to eight patio fires—seven of which were caused by lit cigarettes that were improperly disposed of, Scott said.
“There has been a number of deck fires, and everyone of them that I can think of in the recent past has been from an improperly disposed cigarette," Scott said. "One thing we’d like to emphasize when talking about fire safety…it’s so important to have a proper place to put your cigarette butt, and the last place you want to put them is in a flower pot, becase potting soil has peat moss, which is highly combustible."
Scott recommends that homeowners purchase a metal disposal device called a "butt can". The can, which is a large, sand-filled basin topped by a slim disposal tube, admits no breeze and stifles any lit cigarette butts.
Once purchased, a butt can should be stationed several feet away from the side of the house and cleaned once a month, Scott said.