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Tossed butts leading cause of Richmond fires

Don Fennell   Aug-01-2017

Roadside fires, many caused by tossed cigarette butts, are becoming a nightmare to deal with by Richmond Fire-Rescue.

Steve via flickr.com


Smoking causes more than cancer. It has also become the leading cause of fires in Richmond.

Richmond Fire-Rescue says carelessly discarded cigarettes, tossed from vehicles or simply thrown on the ground by pedestrians, is a growing and alarming threat. The arrival of hot weather, and the current wildfire situation, has only increased concerns.

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“We aren’t aware of anywhere else in North America where smoking materials are attributed as the number one cause of fires,” said Richmond Fire-Rescue community relations officer Brian MacLeod.

In the first 25 days of July this year, Richmond Fire-Rescue responded to 55 fires caused by carelessly-discarded smoker’s materials— an average of over two per day. These same types of fires accounted for 43 per cent of all fires in Richmond in 2016.

“We need to make a change, it needs to happen right now, and it starts with all of us,” said MacLeod. “Regardless of how the fires start, carelessly discarded smoker’s material fires are almost always preventable with due care.”

Some helpful tips to reduce the number of fires caused by cigarettes include:

•Always extinguishing smoker’s materials in a deep, non-combustible ashtray

•Making sure matches and cigarette butts in ashtrays are wet and completely extinguished before putting them in a garbage container

•Never extinguishing smoking materials in planted pots, bark mulch or peat moss

•Never discard smoking materials on the ground

•Keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of the reach of children

The current extreme fire hazard has sparked trail closures and led to a barbecue ban throughout Metro Vancouver. A number of Richmond parks and trails were already closed to the hot weather, and new measures are now in effect. This includes no outdoor fires or barbecues, including charcoal or propane barbecues, in all city parks and trails.

The extreme dry weather and fire conditions have led to the closure of the following parks and trails until further notice:

• Shell Road Trail

• Horseshoe Slough Trail

• Bridgeport Trail

• Queens Canal Trails

• Nature Park West park, boardwalks and trails

• Nature Park East park, boardwalks and trails

Updated information on parks closures can be found at: www.richmond.ca/parks/parks/about/weather.

Meanwhile, the city is also urging residents to take care during this week’s predicted heat wave by staying hydrated, wearing sun protection and avoiding strenuous outdoor exercise. Most civic facilities have air conditioning and can offer a cool refuge from the heat. The city’s swimming pools and ice rinks also offer a cool alternative.
People living alone are at high risk of severe heat related illness. Check in regularly with anyone who lives alone, particularly older people, those with mental illness and anyone else who is unable to leave their un-air conditioned homes, for signs of heat-related illness. As always residents are reminded not to leave children or pets in locked cars.

More tips on beating the heat can be found at www.richmond.ca/safety/prepare/city/hazards/heat.


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