A discarded cigarette caused a fire that destroyed a Whiteland home last month, investigators said.
Investigators found multiple cigarette butts where they believe the fire started near the front of the home in the 300 block of Ardmoor Drive, Whiteland Fire Department Chief Eric Funkhouser said.
In the week after the fire, investigators sifted through debris in the badly burned home to trace the path the fire took. From what they found, investigators concluded what likely happened is that the residents accidentally discarded cigarettes that weren’t completely extinguished. After several hours of smoldering, the cigarettes managed to catch something else in the home on fire, Funkhouser said.
The fire has been ruled accidental, he said.
Firefighters responded to the house fire around 4 a.m. Nov. 25. A family of four already had escaped through a bedroom window after being woken up by their smoke detector. They were treated for smoke inhalation at Eskenazi Hospital and released.
The family is doing well and is thankful for the donations and support from the community, Funkhouser said.
The family is going through the donations they received and determining what they need. They will give donations they don’t need back to the fire department to pass along to other families in need, he said.
Residents should make sure to dispose of cigarettes properly, such as in an ash tray, and make sure to completely extinguish them, Funkhouser said.
When someone throws out a cigarette that isn’t completely extinguished, it can smolder for hours before starting a fire, he said.
“We’ve seen this before,” Funkhouser said. “It has taken hours before. It smolders and then is able to ignite the other materials around it and is able to take off from there.”