Fort Myers, Fla-WINK News had reports from all over Fort Myers Thursday night from people smelling smoke... that's from a blaze in another part of the state but it's the fear of fires in southwest Florida that has law enforcement and forestry officials getting more serious about prevention.
"It's really a preventable cause that we should have zero of," said Mike Westin of the Division of Forestry.
Smokers who flick their cigarette face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine! A punishment not everyone sees fit.
"I think that's a little excessive," said James Gogden of Fort Myers.
"I think they could maybe have you do community service.. maybe 50 hours of community service picking up cigarette butts specifically," added resident Wendy Segura
"There are receptacle everywhere I am on the conservative side but I think smokers should be responsible," said Joshua Monroe of Ocala.
Forestry officials agree. They say its not unrealistic to believe that one small cigarette could cause a blaze. Now that we are in the thick of wildfire season, a crackdown is the best way to send a message.
"Really it only takes one small ember to start a wild fire and so when that cigarette gets tossed out of the car or it gets dropped as you're walking along and you don't dispose of it after that right now we have conditions that that one spark could start that blaze that potentially burns down someone's house," Westin continued.
Most wildfires are caused by lightning but at least 5%, forestry officials say, are completely avoidable.
Mother nature will give us enough fire starts and lets really try and avoid any of the human cause-starts. whether it's dumping something out in the woods, coals, whether its dumping a cigarette out the window or kids playing we're going to have enough starts and let's just keep the human cause ones down to zero," Westin said.
Another major common cause according to forestry officials is children playing with matches so they remind all parents to be extra watchful.