Two recent fires in the city are being blamed on smokers, prompting a reminder from the Grande Prairie Fire Department. A mobile home in Country Estates was destroyed by fire Friday morning, and a home in O’Brien Lake was extensively damaged Sunday evening. Their causes are still under investigation, but there were two smaller fires caused by smoking materials in the past week.
Fire Marshal James Kostuk says smoking is the second leading cause of home fires in the city, mostly from smokers not extinguishing their cigarettes completely and not butting out safely. Smokes tossed out of a vehicle or thrown on the ground have also been to blame.
“We are seeing a trend where smokers tend to go outside to smoke for health reasons,” he explains. “They often have an unapproved ashtray or discard cigarette butts into flowerbeds. These butts can smoulder for hours prior to starting a fire.”
Kostuk says smokers should make sure they’re using deep, non-combustible ashtrays, and matches and butts are wet and fully extinguished before being put in the garbage. Throwing a cigarette on the ground is considered littering, and could lead to a $115 fine from the City.
“We have seen our neighbour cities in Alberta and across the country experience massive fires causing large dollar losses and creating huge social economic impact,’ adds Kostuk. “We have been lucky so far, it’s a matter of time before we have a similar fire or a fatality. We need to make a change, it needs to happen now and starts with all of us.”
From 2007 to 2016, smoking-related fires caused $6,466,037 in damage in the city. The leading cause of home fires is still cooking.