A burning cigarette placed by a tenant on a cardboard box ignited a patio fire at River Stone Apartments that caused about $3,000 in damage, firefighters said.
The Columbus Fire Department was called at 3:07 p.m. Wednesday to 3460 Limestone Lane, where the fire was reported on a second-floor patio deck, said Capt. Michael Wilson, fire department spokesman.
Firefighters arrived on the scene to find a smoldering wooden patio deck and melted vinyl siding outside the second floor apartment, Wilson said.
Firefighters also found that a third-floor sprinkler head had activated and was still flowing water on the smoldering materials below, Wilson said. Fire also damaged the bottom of the third-floor wooden patio decking, he said.
Firefighters had the fire under control within minutes of arrival, Wilson said.
The apartment complex is west of Interstate 65 and south of State Road 46.
The tenant, who had been smoking outside, told investigators that he had placed a lit cigarette on a cardboard box, with the intention to briefly enter the apartment and then return to the patio deck, Wilson said. However, the tenant said he became distracted while inside the apartment and forgot that he had left the cigarette on the cardboard box, he said.
The fire originated near an external storage closet located on the patio, which was closed at the time of the fire.
Cause of the fire was ruled accidental due to unattended smoking material, Wilson said.
The Columbus Fire Department has responded to five residential fires this year where smoking was a contributing factor, he said.