VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Virginia Beach Fire Department has a warning about not putting out cigarettes and improperly discarding smoking materials.
In 2020 alone, they say almost $4 million in property damage was caused by not putting things like cigarettes out properly in the City of Virginia Beach.
A fire at Sal’s Pizza off Pleasurehouse on April 30 was caused by cigarettes that were not put out properly.
Officials say this causes everything from brush fires to house fires and causes lots of damage to businesses every year.
They said in 2020, improper disposal of smoking material caused $3,916,975 in damage.
“It’s such a large number when you think about it. There’s so many steps that you can do to discard of these properly that can reduce that number and reduce the risk of injury and deaths as well,” said Taylor Jones, a Virginia Beach firefighter.
The fire department says things like cigarettes cause about 40 fires on average a year in the city.
They said this time of year they usually see an increase in calls. They get more mulch fires and brush fires.
Now, firefighters want the public to be more aware about this expensive problem.
They encourage people to be more careful when putting out cigarettes or other smoking materials.
They said all these fires are preventable.
Jones said to make sure the cigarette is fully extinguished, don’t throw it out the window - put it in sand or water. She said don’t leave smoking materials unattended and make sure they are in a fireproof container.