I was just about to bite into a sandwich Friday, when I heard a text message arrived from Julie Righter, the manager of our Emergency Communications Center: "Did you hear that call?" As I was reading the message my cellphone rang, and Sgt. Don Scheinost told me that Lincoln Fire & Rescue had just been dispatched on a working fire to the house next door to my home.
I switched on the radio and listened to the traffic on the fire tactical channel. Engine 6 was putting other responding units back in service, a pretty good indication that the fire was small and had been quickly extinguished. That's the corner of my house, on the right.
Apparently someone had stubbed out a cigarette in a plastic flowerpot which was up against the exterior wall of the garage. This eventually ingited the vinyl siding. Fortunately, a few houses away a crew was working on a siding project spotted the flames and made the 911 call. Any other day most everyone would have been at work, and the fire likely would have gotten a much better start. I suspect the results of that might well have been similar to this one, a week ago Saturday.
There have been several fires in the past year that were caused by the disposal of smoking materials in plastic containers. In fact, smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fires. To the extend residential fires are fewer these days, the decline in smoking rates is a major contributor.