By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — Fire officials say an improperly discarded cigarette probably caused the house fire that crews quickly extinguished on Pratt Street yesterday afternoon.
Firefighters responded to a 5:10 p.m. report of a blaze at the back of 14 Pratt St. and determined that the shingles on the side of the three-story building had caught fire, Deputy fire Chief James Lynch said.
The house was evacuated and firefighters doused the area with a hose and then tore up the shingles, checking to see if the fire had extended to the structure, but it hadn’t, Lynch said. Firefighters also went into the building to inspect for extension.
It took about 20 minutes to fully extinguish the blaze.
Firefighters found a melted plastic bucket with cigarettes in it near the area of the blaze and determined that a cigarette was likely to blame, Lynch said. He estimated the damage at between $1,000 and $2,000.
The building’s occupants were let back inside after the incident.