COMMERCIAL STRUCTURE FIRE (UPDATE): A discarded cigarette butt is likely the cause of a commercial structure fire last night at a hotel off U.S. 59 south.

Lufkin Fire Marshal Ozzie Jarman believes the fire began with a cigarette butt discarded into a mulched flower bed with shrubbery in the front corner of Comfort Suites.

A passerby reported a small fire in the bushes against the building at 7:49 p.m. Jarman said fire burned from the ground into the structure’s attic. Everyone evacuated safely, and no injuries occurred.

Lufkin Fire was assisted by Nacogdoches Fire and Hudson Volunteer Fire. The blaze was called under control at 9:24 p.m.

Due to the extent of smoke and water damage, the business will likely be closed for the foreseeable future.

This incident demonstrates the extreme fire conditions present due to the ongoing drought. Lufkin Fire has responded to 17 grass/wildfires since July 20 when Angelina County enacted a burn ban.

It remains critically important for citizens to respect the burn ban and be cautious when driving, parking, or idling in/on grass, or discarding cigarette butts.

"Stomp out cigarette butts, pour water on them, or put them in proper receptacles,” Jarman said. “Never throw them out of your vehicle window or toss them and walk away.”

We also ask motorists to be mindful of the potential for sparks from trailer tow chains.

If you see a motorist creating sparks, please do what you can to notify them, or get their license plate number and report it to local law enforcement immediately.

Wildfires or fire hazards can be reported locally at 936-633-0356 or 911 in emergencies.