The story starts yesterday morning as a young man was driving across the Bay Bridge while smoking a cigarette. Upon finishing with his cancer stick he did what far too many smokers do, and flicked his still-lit cigarette butt out the window.
You may have observed that the weather recently has been a wee bit stormy. Up here it's been a tad bit windy as well. And so it was that after this fine young litterer flicked his butt out the window something unusual happened. Instead of the butt flying out of the car and assaulting the paint job of the person behind him before falling to the ground, the wind caught the cigarette and flipped it back into the car, where it landed in the back of his SUV.
I never realized this before, but apparently SUV interiors are highly flamable.
Not long after the cigarette jumped back in, the car began to be filled with black smoke. The driver pulled over as soon as he could (which is not necessarily immediately, as the Bridge does not have shoulders, and the off-ramps are spaced a few miles apart.) The driver jumped out of the now-flaming vehicle, but in his haste he put it into neutral instead of park and forgot to set the parking brake. Since he pulled off an off-ramp for an elevated freeway, the car did what one would expect it to do and it rolled down the off-ramp, completely engulfed in flames, until it encountered a guard rail and was abruptly stopped.
The fire department arrived, but not in time to save the highly combustable tank. The driver was able to get out with only his hair slightly singed. He will, however, be cited. Throwing a lit cigarette onto the roadway is a $1000 fine. He has some grounds for appeal in that said lit cigarette clearly never hit the ground, but the CHP thinks it likely that the charge will, in fact, stick.