*(The following open letter is something I wrote back in March of 2021.  Now, here we are in October of 2022, and just about the exact thing happened to me yesterday on Lincoln Road east of the airport.  I had to put out another small fire due to a lit cigarette.  We are back in drought conditions.  Don't be responsible for a wildfire with your carelessness.  You should NOT be flicking lit cigarettes out of your vehicle.  It's dangerous and disgusting.)*


I guess I shouldn't assume it was a guy, but it's something I've seen guys do over the years way more than women.  This happened on the way home from work last week.  I was heading south on University past the airport, and I took a left on Yegen Road on my way home south of Lincoln.

There was a white, older Silverado pickup maybe 100 yards ahead of me.  I noticed that this driver had flicked a cigarette out his window because it bounced a couple of times onto the concrete with embers flying everywhere.  Sure enough, with a strong south wind that day, the cigarette made it to the nearby ditch.  What happened next, reminded me of a time when I had played with Jumping Jacks fireworks during drought conditions.  You can literally start a ditch on fire in a matter of seconds.  As, soon as the cigarette reached the ditch, it was like "poof", and you could see a small fire had started almost instantly.  I'm sure the Bismarck Airport didn't appreciate their ditch being on fire.

As I came up on the flames, which were about the size of a small bonfire by the time I reached it, I jumped out of my truck and knew I had to do something.  My instincts kicked in, and I started kicking dirt and sand on it, which was thankfully near the edge of the road.  Another driver behind me also stopped to assist, and between the two of us kicking and throwing sand, we had the flames out pretty quickly.  He asked me what happened? I told him about the driver ahead of me with his cancer stick, and how he had started the ditch on fire with carelessness.

This is a serious reminder of how dry we are in North Dakota.  According to an article I read on AG WEB, North Dakota farmers need 200% of normal Spring rainfall to undo our drought conditions.  In fact, North Dakota is the driest it's been in 40 years.  If you have to smoke in your vehicle, DON'T throw your LIT cigarette out your window.  There might not be somebody there to put out your mess next time.

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