City Front Page News

Posted on: November 3, 2017

Potting soil fires common, but preventable.

Potting Soil Fires Newsflash-01

Over the last several years, fire departments throughout North America have reported a higher than average number of fires – some serious – caused by potting soil catching fire.  The Tri-Cities is not immune. Numerous local fires have been caused by people using planters full of potting soil to extinguish cigarettes. If the cigarette is not completely extinguished the potting soil can over time ignite causing a fire.

Several of the potting soil fires in our area have started on balconies in apartment complexes where even more residents are at risk, so fire prevention officers are taking to the streets – and the airwaves – to warn citizens. Brochures and door hangars have been distributed at apartment complexes, and media campaigns are ongoing to raise awareness.

Today’s potting mixes sold in garden stores contain little or no actual soil.  Instead, they contain a blend of materials designed to absorb and retain water and aerate the soil.  When these materials are allowed to dry out and something hot is placed in them, such as a lit cigarette, these materials may smolder and lead to fire ignition.

How can you help?

  • Provide smokers with a designated smoking area with proper receptacles for cigarette disposal; such as a metal bucket filled with sand.
  • Inform all smokers not to use any planter/flower pots  as an ashtray.
  • Maintain planters by keeping plants fresh and watered.
  • Discard any dead plants in planters.
  • Avoid plastic planters and opt for clay ones instead, which will better contain a fire if one occurs.

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