Cigarette mishap results in small fire


Image: Rachel McBride

A MERPO officer extinguishes a fire outside Legacy.

Rachel McBride, Staff Writer

A smoldering cigarette butt could have potentially caused a residence hall fire on Easter Sunday.

Several Legacy Hall residents smelled smoke that turned out to be a burning flower bed behind their building. Mercer Police contained and extinguished the fire

Freshman Daniel Lentz was on his way to eat lunch when he spotted the small fire. He called Mercer Police immediately and waited as the fire spread quickly across the majority of the flower bed.

“If [my girlfriend and I] weren’t there to see the fire, would it have just burned everything in that little area and stayed contained?” Lentz said. “Probably, but what if it was in the big planter that loops around the front of Legacy [Hall] where all those trees are? That could have been a huge blaze.”

Mercer University is a smoke-free campus, but smoking is permitted beyond 25 feet of buildings according to the Tobacco and Smoke-Free Environment Policy on Mercer’s website.

“Smokers should ensure their cigarettes are properly extinguished before discarding,” Kyle Sears, the University’s Director of Media Relations, said.

Lentz also expressed concerns about smoking on campus and the rules placed on students who do smoke.

“I think it’s fine to smoke close to the building,” Lentz said. “But just try to be more considerate about what you do with your trash.  Don’t just throw it into easily flammable substances.”

However, Freshman Lennigrad Generoso believes that smoking should not be permitted on campus at all.

“I believe that smoking … should not be allowed on campus,” Generoso said. “There are so many risks that [are] involve[d] with it.”

Lentz suggested that Mercer’s campus could benefit from some designated smoking areas.

Genersoso does not approve of the idea of designated smoking areas, as he believes it could “incite [a] smoking attitude on campus.”

Peyton Bernhardt, a freshman, agreed with Lentz that designated smoking areas could be an excellent addition to campus.

“I feel like Mercer can’t completely ban smoking on campus because many people do smoke,” Bernhardt said. “But several designated smoking areas would be nice so that people who don’t wish to walk through it don’t have do.”

Sears shared that there are currently only “cigarette urns” located at various places around campus.

“The current tobacco policy was adopted several years ago to balance the interests of smokers and non-smokers,” Sears said.

The Tobacco and Smoke-Free Environment Policy contains the campus guidelines pertaining to these issues and is accessible on Mercer’s website.