What happens when you toss a lit cigarette onto the ground in a drought?

The Alabaster Fire Department helps out with demonstrating how quickly fire can spread. (Sebastian Posey/CBS42)

ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — CBS42 teamed up with the Alabaster Fire Department to do an experiment showing how quickly things are catching on fire–and how quickly they can spread in these dry conditions.

With Alabaster’s assistance, we lit fires using cigarettes and a lighter in a mixture of pine straw and dry grass near the fire station.  What we saw was unsettling–and proves why you have to listen to fire officials about the burn ban.  According to the Alabama Forestry Commission – cigarette fires normally only account for less than 1% of the fires they work, but with the drought conditions, this year has been anything but normal.  “We’re starting to see equipment fires where a farmer will hit a rock with a Bush Hog blade and cause a fire in a field,” said Coleen Vansant, the public relations guru for the Alabama Forestry Commission.  “A chain on a truck, dragging along the pavement and putting sparks up, too.  More untraditional causes than we normally have.”

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