Fire-Scarred Apartment Institutes Smoking Ban

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Haunted by three fires in 13 months, all linked to cigarettes, managers at the Hillsborough Pointe Apartment complex put up the No Smoking signs on Tuesday.

The most recent fire was a two-alarm blaze last Friday that sent one person to the hospital. There was another fire last March and the third was in December 2012. Investigators say improper handling of cigarettes caused all of them.

On Tuesday letters were posted at every entrance notifying residents that a smoking ban is now in effect.

Even though there are some units that are already smoke-free, all 484 will now be that way. The ban includes apartments, decks and patios.

Kathey Whelan said, "I don't know how they can enforce that."

She has lived at the complex for eight years and even with the rash of fires she says it's a good place to live. She says her neighbors who smoke are careful.

“Nobody walks away from a cigarette and leaves it burning in our building,” she said. “I can't speak for the other buildings because I don't know."

The new rules require any smoking on the property to be done at least 25-feet away from a building. That means in the parking lot.

The apartment managers say they want to be trend-setters when it comes to a smoke-free environment.

Tenants are also being asked to report those who are violating the policy.