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County fire officials reminding smokers to properly butt out

County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire officials want to remind residents that using a plant pot as an ashtray could start a fire.

Fire Marshal Ken Atamanchuk says they’ve certainly seen situations in recent years where an improperly placed or put-out cigarette spark a fire and residents may not even see the danger until it’s too late.

“That peat moss will heat up… and if a wind picks up, and embers get blown out of it, then we have the risk of a grass fire starting in a person’s yard,” he adds.

Atamanchuk says the push for a safety push approach isn’t targeted solely at those on their own property, as drivers flicking a lit cigarette out the window also poses a big risk when it comes to wildfires.

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“We do get fires in the ditch area, and again, we’ve had cigarette butts in there as a cause, especially when the grass is so dry,” he says.

“I’ve seen them thrown in a ditch, and I’ve even seen where they’ve actually had a vehicle fire in the back because it fell into a trailer full of straw.”

In 2021, Alberta Wildfire reported 102 wildfires burned nearly 133 hectares in the Grande Prairie Forest Area between March and October.

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