Fire officials stress importance of proper disposal of smoking materials

3 Topeka apartment fires started by smoking materials
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 3:01 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - This year, fires were started by smoking materials at Meadowlark, The Pines and Woodland Park apartment complexes. The fire at Woodland Park earlier this month led to a man’s death. The Topeka Fire Department says it’s a reminded to make sure smoking materials are properly disposed every time.

“If you’re going to smoke, make sure that you have a proper way to dispose of these smoking materials before you start,” said Alan Stahl with the Topeka Fire Department. “Thousands of people smoke successfully and don’t burn buildings down, but it’s that time that you’re not paying attention and you’re disposal methods are less than par. You may get away with it a thousand times, but it’s that one time that’s going to get you.”

That one time could cost you big because fire spreads.

“We have seen multiple track instances where people beyond the person that started the fire are effected,” said Stahl, “and you don’t want to be responsible for your neighbors losing all their property, their pets or even a family member.”

Even though you cannot be held criminally responsible for accidentally causing fire on your neighbors property, you can still betaken to civil court.

“If we can prove that you are the one who threw out smoking materials and started that fire, even though it’s an accident, you can be held liable for any property damage that that fire creates,” said Stahl.

It’s especially upsetting when property is damaged or a life is taken by something preventable.

“Anytime we have a major fire, it’s very upsetting for all of us,” said Stahl. “We don’t want to see anybody lose their property nonetheless get injured or even worst case get killed, especially when it’s entirely preventable. We’ve had a rough fall, it’s been extremely dry and the conditions are right for for those improperly disposed cigarettes’ to cause fires.”

That’s why it’s important to know how to properly dispose smoking materials.

“If you’re going to smoke,” said Stahl, “take your time and go out to ground level and have a metal container to dispose that smoking material in.”

Be sure to empty your metal or non flammable container every so often to ensure that the contents don’t accidentally reignite.