Published: 21st January 2009

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Acting Commissioner John Benson and NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons today urged smokers to discardcigarette butts responsibly and for motorists to avoid tossing cigarettes on roadways.

NSWFB Acting Commissioner Benson said firefighters responded to two separate roadside fires at Greystanes and Homebush Bay yesterday afternoon and both incidentswere believed to be caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

"These fires caused major traffic delays and posed a great danger to drivers and their passengers, as well as firefighters who put out the fires. These fires also threatenedproperty.

"Thankfully no one was injured but in many cases, roadside grass fires can result insignificant damage to property and put lives at risk.

"A careless flick of a cigarette is all it takes to spark a serious roadside grass fire so I appeal to smokers to dispose of cigarettes carefully and avoid becoming an unwittingfirebug," NSWFB Acting Commissioner Benson said.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said higher temperatures expected later thisweek were a cause for concern and would increase bushfire risks.

"With more than a dozen bushfires now burning across the state, it is important that we areall vigilant and take precautions to prevent fires.

"To help prevent a roadside fire, don't throw cigarette butts out the window or onto the roadway. Extinguish and dispose of them carefully. If you're driving, use the vehicle'sashtray.

"If you see a fire, report it to Triple Zero (000) and if you see someone throwing a cigarette butt out of their car, report them to the Department of Environment and Climate Change on131555," RFS Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

Penalties for throwing cigarette butts during the Bush Fire Danger Period include fines ofup to $5500 and up to 12 months imprisonment.