Photo from nbcnews.com

My hometown has made national headlines in the past couple days with the Blue Cut fire scorching nearly 40,000 acres of land and taking with it an estimated 300 structures.  With family members of mine having to evacuate, this one hit particularly close to home.  It also caused the closing of one of the largest freeways in California for two days, leaving miles of trucks stranded.  Although the cause has not yet been determined for this devastating wildfire, it can only be assumed that is was caused in some way by a person, since there hasn’t been any lightning strikes in the area in some time.  Growing up in the area that this blaze occurred in, it was always a common occurrence to be on “high alert” during the summer fire season, since Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas runs right through our local national forest.  At nps.gov it states that “As many as 90% of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans.”
 

The human causes listed at nps.gov are what bring me to my topic of discussion, since it lists human causes as “unattended campfires, burning of debris, intentional acts of arson and negligently discarded cigarettes.”  With the largest arterial highway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles being at the heart of where most of these fires originated over my three decades in the area, it would be safe to assume that discarded cigarette butts have played a large part of many of the fires I have seen here growing up.  Being that truck drivers spend more time behind the wheel turning miles than anybody else, I often see still-lit cigarettes flung from cabs day in and day out while I am on the road, especially during the dark hours when sparks can be seen when they hit the asphalt.  Even back when I used to smoke 15+ years ago, I was always careful to never toss a cigarette out the window, since it only takes one small, lit "cherry" on the end of a butt to turn some dry roadside grass into a raging wildfire!
 

Though I have not smoked for many, many years, I honor everyone else’s right to choose whether they want to or not.  If you do choose to smoke however, the choice doesn’t mean that you are free of acting like a decent and responsible person doing so.  I know that if I was still partaking in lighting up occasionally, I would not be able to live with the fact that I might have caused a blaze such as the “Blue Cut Fire” or the “Old Fire” in my home area by throwing a lit butt out of the window of my cab while driving.  Use an ashtray, an old soda can, or even a cup with a little water in it and discard the contents in the trash where it belongs.  Also remember that where fines are applicable for littering, a cigarette counts as litter too and carries with it the same fine as throwing trash out the window.  Like Smokey the Bear was famous for saying during my growing up, “Only you can prevent forest fires!”
 

Comments (3)

Jimmy Nevarez

Jimmy Nevarez is the Owner/President of Angus Transportation, Inc., based in Chino, California.  Jimmy pulls a 53' dry van hauling general dry freight for his own small fleet, operating on its own authority throughout all of Southern California and Southern Nevada.

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Wildfires have devastating results when burning in the wilderness and catastrophic results when burning through a wildland / urban interface where homes are located. Hundreds of homes and businesses are lost every year to wildfires. In Oregon, if you are responsible for starting a wildfire you can and usually will be held financially liable for the entire fire suppression costs. A fire the size of the Blue Cut is probably running between one million and two million dollars per day for suppression costs. That doesn't even count the cost to the people affected by the fire. Tossing out a lit cigarette might just cost you more than you could ever earn in your lifetime.

August 22, 2016 14:46:59 PM

Standing right next to you Jimmy! Be responsible!

August 21, 2016 13:49:46 PM

Totally agree Jimmy. If you do choose to smoke - be responsible.

August 21, 2016 6:05:37 AM