Ralph Sambrano has a strong message for anyone who throws cigarettes out of their vehicle windows.
“Don’t even think about doing that,” he said on Monday. “It can cause injury to people and their property.”
Sambrano, 51, was driving home from work on Saturday evening on Interstate 820 when it happened to him.
“I was in the middle lane and the car to the right, about two car lengths down in front of me, I saw someone throw a cigarette out of the window,” he said.
That cigarette landed in the back of his attached trailer that was carrying his lawn care equipment. He is an independent lawn care provider through the company Lawn Love.
“Lawn clippings in the trailer quickly caught fire and before he had a chance to act, his trailer was ablaze,” the company’s CEO, Jeremy Yamaguchi, said.
After the cigarette was flicked, Sambrano said other motorists started honking and pointing at him.
“I didn’t know why because I didn’t cut anyone off,” he said. “But I looked out of the mirror and saw flames.”
He pulled over and his wife, who was in the passenger seat, grabbed the two water cans they were carrying. Sambrano quickly removed the gas cans he also had on the trailer.
“Everything was already in flames,” he said.
All of his equipment was burned and now he’s out of work.
Sambrano — who is a father of six — has been servicing lawns for about two-and-a-half years. He normally services about seven a day.
“I have three kids that live with me,” he said. “They helped me on the yards, so right now they’re out job hunting and looking for work. This was my only sort of income coming in and it’s just stopped right now.”