July 17, 2017 9:57 pm
Updated: July 18, 2017 1:53 am

B.C. wildfire: Fire risk in Metro Vancouver a growing concern

Mon, Jul 17: The fire risk applies to urban areas as well and there are growing concerns people are not getting the message about the importance of properly discarding lit cigarette butts. Grace Ke reports.

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As wildfires burn across large parts of British Columbia, there is growing concern that the fire danger extends to urban areas like Metro Vancouver.

There were 144 grass fires in Surrey from May through the first week of July, many of which were caused by someone tossing away a lit cigarette.

“It is a big problem, it increases every year and we’re seeing the same increase this year,” Surrey Asst. Fire Chief Jason Cairney said. “What we’re doing to prevent it is we’re going to begin doing safety patrols in the parks to make sure that we don’t have people burning or camping in the parks at this time of year.”

WATCH: Latest on the B.C. wildfires


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In addition to patrols, Surrey firefighters are erecting signs at the exact spot where they extinguished a brush fire.

The sign reads: “Surrey Fire Service attended a preventable fire at this location. Please use your ashtray and smoke responsibly.”

“We do have forested areas and parks that we want to protect and it is really dry here as well so we want to continue that education process and help people buy into that message,” Cairney said.

There have been 16 grass fires in the City of Vancouver since the start of June, most of which were sparked by a cigarette.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires map 2017: Current location of wildfires around the province

In May, the city implemented changes to the City of Vancouver’s fire bylaw. A $500 fine can be levied against anyone who discards burning material that creates a hazardous situation.

“Unfortunately, all the education campaigns in the world didn’t seem to be driving home the risk,” Capt. Jonathan Gormick, public information officer with Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, said.

“Most of our green spaces are very close to structures…It’s only a matter of time before we get a major loss or even a loss of life because of a fire caused by a cigarette.”

– With files from Grace Ke and Yuliya Talmazan

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