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Fond du Lac Fire Rescue urging caution with smoking materials

Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 10:00 PM CDT
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - A warning tonight from Fond du Lac Fire Rescue after it’s responded to what it calls is a large number of fires with a common cause. Investigators say all were sparked by improperly disposed smoking materials.

It’s been a busy week and a half for Fond du Lac Fire Rescue. According to Division Chief Jason Roberts, “We’ve had four fire incidents, in the last ten days, directly related, cause being improper discarding of smoking materials and another one still under investigation.”

One of those fires was Monday night at the Empire Building, a portion of the building remains blocked off on Tuesday. Another fire was almost a week ago, last Wednesday, at The Press Box Tavern.

“We started to develop some smoke in the building. A lot of customers were like, what’s that smell, what’s that smell? And I’m running around, trying to look at the exhaust, I’m checking the machines, I’m running around the outside of the building, I’m down in the basement in the crawl space trying to figure out where the smoke is coming from,” says bar GM Aaron Rickert.

It turns out, a cigarette - that was thrown on the ground, outside the bar, somehow ignited too close to the building. It smoldered in the wall for hours before Rickert says he found the source. He adds, “We’re fortunate it was within business hours. If it was something at night that smoldering could have turned into flame and then we’d have a real problem.”

While no one was injured in and of these fires, the damage they caused, is costly, and it’s still being cleaned up. Jason Roberts says, “This has caused thousands of dollars in damage to property and we’re just asking the community to help us out so that we can mitigate these risks, reduce the risk to our community to keep our community safer.”

Some ways to do that, according to the fire department, use water or sand to help extinguish your flames, and don’t just throw cigarette butts on the ground - find a fireproof receptacle.

This time of year, when grass and brush is dry - these butts can cause problems very quickly. “The fire does spread at a drastic rate and we really need to be proactive and try to prevent these fires from occurring,” says Roberts.

And, if you do see a fire, call 911 immediately.

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