The improper disposal of smoking materials is most likely what caused a fire that took the life of a 4-year-old girl in Lowell earlier this month, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.
Pietra Emanuelle Silva Araujo was killed when flames destroyed her day care on Maude Street on March 3, according to her obituary.
Fire officials said the fire appears to have started in a shared first-floor porch at the back of the building, where they found cigarette butts. They noted they could not definitively say what caused the fire given the extent of the damage and shared nature of the space, and the official cause will remain "undetermined." The fire does not appear criminal in nature, investigators said.
Firefighters rescued five people from the blaze at the triple-decker building, but were unable to locate Pietra during their initial searches of the building. Her body was discovered later that night.
"Smoking materials cause more residential fire deaths than all other known causes combined,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “As we head into spring, we’re urging everyone to please be careful with any open flame or burning object on exterior porches, balconies, and stairways. We know this building had working smoke alarms inside, but a fire on the outside of a building can grow undetected until it’s too late, putting everyone at risk."
Multiple people called 9-1-1 that afternoon just after 2:30 p.m. Firefighters were met with heavy fire and smoke from the building. Video taken by a witness showed firefighters carrying a child away from the heavy flames on a ladder truck.