Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Firefighters blame building fire on bird with cigarette

It’s bad enough when you have careless kids smoking on rooftops and tossing lit cigarette butts hither and yon, but firefighters now apparently have to worry about careless birds doing basically the same thing.

The cause of an apartment building fire that required four firetrucks and 21 firefighters to put out Wednesday night in London, England, initially baffled investigators. It seemed fairly obvious that the fire started on the roof, but once up there, they couldn’t find the point of ignition.

According to London Fire Brigade investigations officer Matt Cullen, ”When we got up into the roof, we were baffled as there were no obvious ignition sources. No-one had been up to there for a long time and there were no electrics that could have sparked a blaze. We looked everywhere, but the smoking gun was found when we discovered a partially burnt birds’ nest.”

Neighbors confirmed that they had often seen birds flying in and out of a hole in the roof. Investigators believe that a bird with a smoldering cigarette butt placed it the nest. Luckily the fire was quickly put out.

Another mysterious fire in London in 2013 is believed to have been caused by a pigeon dropping a lit cigarette butt down a chimney.

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