RFD: Structure fires from smoking materials spike in May

(ABC 6 News) – Careless smoking is historically the leading cause of fatal fires in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal.

The Rochester Fire Department (RFD) said in May alone, fire fighters responded to five different structure fires that were determined to have been caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.

While none were fatal, the number of fires caused by smoking materials is a concern to RFD. They want to remind everyone that proper use and disposal of smoking materials is critical in preventing fires from starting.

One of the primary dangers of smoking materials is that they can smolder for hours before igniting a larger fire after residents in the home have left or gone to sleep.

RFD recommends the following steps be taken to prevent these dangerous fires:

  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Discard cigarettes in a deep, sturdy ashtray filled with water or sand.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation like mulch or leaves.
  • While many people think it is safe to extinguish cigarettes in flower pots or other planters, the ingredients in potting soil can be very flammable.
  • Do not smoke while using or in the presence of medical oxygen.
  • Do not smoke while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you are feeling overly tired.
  • E-cigarettes also pose a fire risk and have been known to catch fire while being used, charged, or transported.