Tossed cigarette butts increasing fire danger

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 20:35:38-04

The number of fires reported over the past month is adding up at a rapid pace. It is both wildland and structure fires. In several cases the cause has been blamed on improperly disposed smoking material.

Wildland fires caused by cigarette butts likely tossed from cars, also the fire that burned a line of townhomes in Colorado Springs. A resident tried to put out a cigarette in a flower pot. Instead of dirt, it was mulch material that ignited.

Firefighters say like grass and vegetation, in our dry conditions the materials in buildings are also drier and at higher risk of igniting if exposed to a heat source. “When it’s fry outside those are drying out as well,” said Captain Brian Vaughan with Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Colorado Springs Fire Department tracks statistics and in just the first four months of the year, cigarettes are to blame for a lot of fires. "This year of the 50 fires they’ve investigated, which is a big number for us already, 13 of those have been related to some form of careless smoking materials," said Vaughan. That is more than one in five

Lieutenant Howard Black with Colorado Springs Fire Department says when fires are happening and conditions are this dry, patrol officers are on higher alert. It is difficult to prove, but he says anyone can make a report if they see someone tossing a cigarette butt. You also have to be willing to file and sign a report. An officer will determine if there is enough evidence to pursue charges. Pictures help and with technology they are becoming more common.