Property damage caused by smoking material fires is on the rise, according to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services.
Smoking material fires, or fires caused by cigarette butts, have caused more property damage this year than in 2008 and 2009 combined, and the city is only halfway through the year.
“If a person is going to smoke, we do ask that they use an approved receptacle for disposing your smokers’ materials,” said Wayne Pawlowski, chief of fire investigations.
“And that (means) a metal can with either water or sand in it. We have had a rash of fires this year, approximately 20 fires.”
Those 20 fires have resulted in more than $4.1-million worth of property damage and one fatality.
Pawlowski warned that extinguishing a cigarette in a planter outside is a dangerous way to dispose of it because, while peat moss doesn’t exactly burn, it supports combustion and will smoulder.
“Most fires that are outside often go undetected. There are no smoke alarms out there and it’s not (noticed) until somebody finally has a visual on it, or somebody drives by and sees it, or it gets into the house and activates the smoke alarm,” Pawlowski said.
To prevent smoking material fires, Fire Rescue Services advised people to make sure that smoking materials in ashtrays are wet before putting them in the garbage; never toss cigarette butts onto the ground; never put out smoking materials in plant pots; and keep smoking materials, as well as lighters and matches, away from children.
“Our fire losses have actually doubled this year, and we’re still just in the early phase of this year,” Pawlowski said. “So that’s why we want to … try and educate the public to properly dispose of their smokers’ material.”