Lethbridge Fire investigates series of weekend dumpster fires

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Lethbridge Fire and EMS investigates series of dumpster fires
Lethbridge Fire and EMS were called to multiple fires over the weekend. Sarah Jones has more on the fires and how local businesses can take preventative measures. – May 13, 2024

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services are investigating a series of dumpster fires that occurred downtown over the weekend.

Chief Fire Marshal Troy Hicks described the fires as “opportunistic,” and reminded residents and business owners to stay vigilant in securing their dumpsters.

“Keep [the dumpsters] secured, keep them away from anything else. If they start to get overflowed — maybe you had a big delivery day or something like that — maybe call in for an extra [garbage] pick-up,” said Hicks.
“Lots of times a lot of these fires we have downtown [occur because] the opportunity is there. People will see garbage overflowing, recycling overflowing and sometimes these [fires] happen.”
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Just before 7 p.m. on Sunday, personnel responded to a dumpster fire in an alley near 4th Avenue South and another fire smouldering under a tree right around the corner on 7th Street South.

A separate fire was discovered burning in a dumpster behind the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization on Sunday.

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While Lethbridge Police Service did not receive a report on any of these fires, officers responded to a call about a female who had allegedly lit a fire in a planter along the 300 block of 6th Street South at approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday.

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According to police, the fire caused minimal damage and was extinguished by a citizen prior to their arrival. Officers canvassed the area but were unable to locate the subject.

Hicks says there is no confirmation the fires are related or that they resulted from an act of arson.

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“Unless we have video footage, there’s not much we can do,” said Hicks.

“Lots of these [fires], we’ll go and investigate, we’ll dig through, we’ll look for anything like possibly a lighter, a match or a cigarette butt or something, but most of the time it comes down to an undetermined cause of fire because we can’t prove how they’re started.”

The fire department will reach out to surrounding businesses to obtain footage to determine the cause of each fire.

Sarah Amies, executive director of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) and member of the Downtown Lawlessness Task Force, also reminds residents to remain vigilant in eliminating fire hazards near their properties or businesses.

“Fire mitigation is certainly front and centre on our agenda with the task force,” said Amies.

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“I know that Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services are doing a lot in terms of education, as we with our newsletter. [We’re] just reminding members to try not to leave inflammatory materials out in the alley, especially at night.”

Community members who may have information leading to the cause of the weekend fires downtown are asked to contact Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.

Hicks adds that due the return of dry, hot weather conditions in the area, he is looking to reimplement a fire ban in Lethbridge, unless the city receives some precipitation in the near future.

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