Inside the shop, when I told the clerk that a trash can was on fire outside, the answer I received was “Yes, doesn’t it smell bad”.

Do you know the supposedly American expression of “a good burn”, often used by the character Michael Kelso in That 70’s Show?

Well in Lithuania they really like a good burn.

Having lived in Vilnius for a little more than two months, I have become quite accustomed to the Lithuanian version of a good burn. I live in an apartment block between Neris and the old town, and in the driveway into the yard we previously had several large plastic containers for garbage use.

But one morning coming down the stairs, my colleague and I noticed that the containers were no longer there. Instead, we found some small sculptures made out of melted green plastic and a huge black spot on the wall. Our containers had, you might say, experienced a good burn over night. Today, the melted plastic has been replaced by solid metal containers that hopefully can survive a bit more.

But the containers in my apartment block are not the only ones falling victims to a burn. Also the trash cans in the street have a tendency to be smoking around the clock, and as late as yesterday did I see a blue trash can enjoying a full blaze just outside a travel agency in  Gedimino.

Inside the shop, when I told the clerk that a trash can was on fire outside, the answer I received was “Yes, doesn’t it smell bad”. When I finally got out of the shop, I found the trash completely burned out.

I have wondered, how come so many trash cans fall victim to “a good burn” and how come it seems so common to Lithuanians, and my answer is surprisingly simple.

The trash cans in Lithuania have an ashtray at the top, and when a cigarette is disposed of, it does not fall into a separate container from the ashtray, but directly down to the garbage underneath. Other times I have seen Lithuanians simply throwing their still lit cigarettes directly in the trash can. I guess it helps limit the amount of garbage that has to be handled and burned later.

So well a bit of advise. If you ever go to the Baltics don’t be frightened by the smoky dustbins, they are quite a local custom.


I read an article recently that the number of fires in Vilnius had increased 43 pct. in Q1 of 2009 compared to the same period the previous year.

I finally after a long time got the chance to take a picture of a Lithuanian fire truck. It is rather old fashioned and really cute, in my opinion. It should be said that the Vilnius fire brigade also holds more modern trucks, however, I know by fact that this one is frequently in use as I pass the fire station daily.


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