Outside smokers start 23 Saskatoon fires in 18 months

People improperly disposing of cigarettes and cigars caused 23 fires in the past 18 months.

Damages total more than $4 million

Fire fighters switch air tanks at a massive early morning condo fire on Saskatoon's east side that caused almost $2 million damage. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

Smoking is expensive. Not butting out  even more expensive.

The Saskatoon fire department said people who didn't properly dispose of cigarettes and cigars started 23 fires that caused more than $4 million in damage in the past 18 months.

In 2013, 16 fires were caused by these materials. So far this year, seven fires have started the same way. The average damage in each blaze was about $100,000.

"With changing social norms, it is now common for people to smoke outside in areas that contain flammable materials," said Saskatoon Fire Department's Mike Ralston. 

"Typically, the person who was smoking has already gone inside the home and the fire grows unnoticed."

The fires start because the smoking materials are not entirely put out, the butts accumulate in a container or the butts are dropped in peat moss, dry leaves or decking materials.