Avoid starting unintentional fires by disposing of cigarettes pr - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Avoid starting unintentional fires by disposing of cigarettes properly

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YAKIMA, WA - The Yakima Fire Department has been busier than usual this year due to an increase in house and landscape fires, most of which are caused by tossed cigarettes. 

People often toss their cigarette butts into a nearby flower pot before they go inside a building; whether it be your home or a local business, within four hours, that building could be up in flames.

Firefighters told reporter Haley Gibbs that the material in these landscapes and flower pots is not dirt but actually an organic material made up of dry bark. This is why it is important to keep your cigarettes away from it.

"I just want people to understand that with this dry condition, it takes anywhere from a half-hour to four hours depending on the size of the cigarette, what you throw down to ignite. And then once it ignites, it will sit there and smolder and it's usually in a spot where people don't notice and all of a sudden you've got the side of a building or you've got even bigger problems going," Yakima Fire Department PIO Jeff Pfaff informed us. 

These fires are easily preventable, and though he doesn't want to condone smoking, Pfaff says if you are going to do it, then put your cigarette out in a sand container. You should avoid the grassy, bark areas and double-check that the cigarette is actually out before leaving it anywhere.

The city has also taken measures by removing a lot of the landscape areas from local street corners to help prevent these types of fires from starting.