Investigators Say Cigarettes Caused Jackson St. Fire Monday That Displaced Nine People

Fire on Jackson Street in Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph.)

Investigators believe a fire Monday that displaced nine residents and destroyed a four-family home was caused by a lit cigarette being thrown from a third-floor window.

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien and Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro issued the ruling late Tuesday afternoon, adding the building at 38 Jackson St., Haverhill, is a total loss.

“It is important to dispose of smoking materials safely, in an ashtray or a can with sand or water. Especially at this time of year, winds can quickly fan cigarettes back to life in dried grass, leaves or mulch. Remember to put it out. All the way. Every time,” said O’Brien.

The fire started on the roof of the house that extended out below the third floor. Investigators believe that a smoker tossed cigarettes out a third-floor window igniting the roof or debris in the gutter along this portion of the roof or in a gap between the gutter and the exterior of the building.

As WHAV reported first Monday, there were no injuries reported among residents or firefighters. Building neighbor Zadrian Colon told WHAV News he helped residents and their pets escape. There are at least two GoFundMe pages to help families here and here. Staff at the John C. Tilton School are also collecting clothing and goods for the families.

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “There have been so many terrible fires in the past two weeks from smoking materials that have left many people homeless.” The state Department of Fire Services has a public awareness campaign on preventing fires from the improper disposal of smoking materials. For more information visit

Smoking is the leading cause of fires that kill. In 2019, smoking caused 21% of fire deaths in Massachusetts’ homes.

Members of the Haverhill Fire Department, Haverhill Police detectives and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal jointly investigated this fire.

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