Don't throw that cigarette out the window, you could burn a city block! The focus of the last 10 years has been the health hazards of smoking, but smoking related fires still account for a large number of deaths and property damage. Both in homes and in wildland areas and forests, discarded cigarettes can have a devastatingly long-lasting impact.
A discarded cigarette is being blamed for a fire that occurred in Australia outside Sydney's Olympic Park on October 13. According to The Guardian, fire damaged or destroyed 80 cars and 500 people had to be evacuated from the Aquatic Center.
Fire Comissioner Greg Mullins said, "The speculation, pretty strong speculation, is that a small grass fire could have been sparked by a discarded cigarette...We know the median-strip fires that we regularly have on bad, hot windy days – they're all caused by cigarette butts. People just don't think."
Other recent fires:
- September 2013 - Cigarette blamed for 37 deaths in Russian Hospital
- August 2013 - Cigarette fire causes $200,000 in damage
- July 2013 - Cigarette causes fire that displaces 50 in Texas
According to the U.S. Fire Administration there were 7,600 fires and 350 deaths as a result of fires caused by smoking in 2010.
What can you do?
- If you smoke, put it out. All the way. Every time!
- Use ashtrays
- The cigarette needs to be completely stubbed out in the ashtray
- Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away
- Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes on the ground or in the trash
- Never smoke while using oxygen
Every year, smokers are killed in home fires caused by smoking. A lit cigarette dropped onto a chair or bed can cause a large fire in seconds.
For more tips on preventing fires caused by cigarettes visit the United Stated Fire Administration
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Alex is a volunteer firefighter in Evansville, Indiana and a full-time firefighter in Providence, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter @FireSafetyAZ