Fire officials remind smokers to be careful

By: Ashley Harding

Fire officials say in the last week, there have been four home fires. They say three of them were caused by cigarettes.

 Cigarettes not being put out properly happens all the time in Lincoln. Worst case scenario, it can lead to a fire. The one that started Thanksgiving Day at the Southwood Village Apartments left more than a dozen families homeless. For victims like Stanley Washington, it's still hard to believe.

 “It's incredible. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Yeah, accidents happen, but you never expect anything like this to happen to you,” said Washington.

Over the summer, at least four fires were smoking–related. According to the United States Fire Administration, nearly 1,000 people are killed every year in home fires started by cigarettes. Of that, 1 in 4 of the people killed is not the smoker, but is the victim of the smoking–related fire. A fire started by an improperly discarded cigarette can actually result in a fine of up to $500 for the person who started it. Fire officials say it doesn't happen often. But again, it's a reminder for people to be careful.

If you do smoke, fire officials say you should do it outside. You should also avoid ashtrays made from cardboard, wood, or plastic. Lastly, you should always douse your cigarette in either water or sand first. For these most recent victims, it's amazing how destructive one cigarette can be.

“It's hard right now just trying to get everything back in motion. I just can't wait till things get back on track and normal once again,” said Washington.

Fire officials also say if you do smoke inside, don't do it where home oxygen tanks are being used.