As Washington state struggles to get the upper hand on wildfires burning throughout the state, the Washington State Patrol says all drivers can play a role in preventing new fires.
Anybody who sees somebody throw a cigarette out a car window is urged to call the State Patrol to report not only where, but also the license plate of who they saw potentially start a fire, Trooper Heather Axtman told The Bellingham Herald Friday.
"If people do this, it's more helpful than they might realize," Axtman said. "Don't hesitate to call in if you see someone carelessly throw a lit cigarette out."
The key though, Axtman said, is making sure you get the license plate.
"Just saying you saw a cigarette thrown out of a car really doesn't help other than tell us where there could be a potential fire starting," Axtman said. "If you get the license plate who, that really helps so much more. Even if we show up and don't see a fire smoldering there, it gives us a track record of who may have started it in case it does start a fire."
As of Thursday, Sept. 10, Gov. Jay Inslee estimated nearly 937 square miles in Washington state have been scorched by fires this week -- "the worst few days in wildfire history for Washington state," he said
The region's recent hot temperatures and low humidity have dried out small vegetation, making them fuel for any small spark or fire source, such as a still burning cigarette thrown from a passing car.