Cigarette Starts Apartment Fire at Debra Drive
By Fire Chief Danielle Rose
September 24, 2017

At 0234 hrs, Potsdam Fire was dispatched to 3 Debra Drive for a report of a fire alarm activation. Paid Driver Jerry Robar responded immediately with Engine 49. While enroute to the call, St. Lawrence County Central Dispatch received a call reporting that this in fact was a structure fire. A second tone was transmitted from dispatch along with Potsdam Rescue and County Car 7.

Upon arrival firefighters found smoke to be coming from Apartment B, room 210. Chief Danielle Rose then requested West Stockholm Fire respond mutual aid with manpower.

Once inside the apartment a trash basket was found in the kitchen area with what appeared to be bath towels smoldering in the plastic garbage can. Firefighters extinguished the fire with a wet can (extinguisher) and removed the hazard from the apartment. With the fire under control, Chief Rose changed the assignment for West Stockholm to standby at their station.

It was determined that the occupant of the apartment had knocked over an ashtray earlier in the evening which had discarded cigarettes in it. The discarded cigarettes were not fully extinguished and started to burn a hole in the couch cushion where the ashtray had landed. The occupant took bath towels and smothered the fire, then discarding the towels in the trash bin in the kitchen before going to bed. The occupant did not notice that the towels that were used to smother the fire were in fact on fire themselves.

Smoke alarms are credited for waking the occupant, along with occupants of the rest of the apartment building. A pull station was also activated on the second floor of the apartment building by one of the occupants of the second floor.

The members of the Potsdam Fire Department would like to remind our community to call the fire department if you have ANY type of fire in your home or any incident where you may feel uncomfortable and are looking for a second opinion on what you should do. We do not want to see any of our community members get hurt or put others in harm’s way. We volunteer for a reason and if that reason is to get up at 3:30am to respond to call, that’s what we do!!

Units: Engine 49 (J. Robar)
Mutual Aid: West Stockholm Fire (Standby at their station)