Abington Fire Marshal Ken Clark said today
that the Friday night fire in the 1900 block of Fairview Avenue was
The Abington Township Fire Marshal, working with township police, the Montgomery County Detectives’ Arson Unit and the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal recently completed the on-scene investigation into the fire, which started on the porch of a 3-story twin house.
The cause has been ruled accidental due to the improper disposal of smoking materials.
“Investigators can conclusively say that the fire started in a makeshift cigarette butt container on the front porch of 1911 Fairview Ave.,” a statement from the Abington Fire Marshal’s office said.
The fire, which started at about 11:30 p.m., destroyed four dwellings within two twin structures and damaged a fifth structure; 20 people were displaced.
Because the originating house was about 100 years old, and constructed mostly of dry wood, Clark said earlier this week that the fire spread quickly to neighboring buildings.
“The next twin up, on the north, one of the residents said he was on the second floor and actually saw fire dripping down onto his window-mounted air conditioner,” Clark said. “It was his siding that was melting from the radiant heat.”
It took firefighters several hours to get the blaze under control; there were about 100 firefighters on the scene from the Abington, Cheltenham, Upper Moreland and Upper Dublin fire departments.
“In houses that are 100 years old, once fire penetrates an interior or exterior wall, the fire can go from the first floor to the roof in a matter of minutes because of the wood lath construction. This was a very labor-intensive job because we had to get to the guts of the building.”