Investigators: Careless smoking sparked 5-alarm blaze that torched multiple homes in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Careless smoking sparked a massive, five-alarm blaze that torched multiple homes in a neighborhood in Lawrence on Easter, leaving a woman hospitalized and causing more than $1 million in damage, officials announced Wednesday.

The fire, ignited by the improper disposal of smoking materials, originated in a carport attached to the back of 14 Saratoga St., Lawrence officials said in a news release. It then spread to the home before scorching 12 Saratoga St. and 19 Bennington St.

Those three buildings suffered exterior damage to the vinyl siding but no interior damage. Homes at 16 Saratoga St., 21 Bennington St, and 23 Bennington St. also suffered heavy exterior damage.

“It’s good that smokers go outdoors to smoke, but it is so important to properly dispose of smoking materials,” Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty said. “Use a metal can filled with water and sand. Don’t drop on the ground, in mulch or dried leaves or potted plants or mix with trash.”

Moriarty noted that it was fortunate that no residents died in the fire.

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey added, “This is the time of year when smoking causes so many fires. A smoldering cigarette can quickly be fanned to life on a windy day. Until you can quit, be a responsible smoker. Put it out. All the way. Every time.”

A motor vehicle and motorcycle were destroyed in the blaze.

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