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Poor disposal of smoking materials caused majority of serious fires in May, June: Calgary fire chief

WATCH: A devastating fire over the weekend has claimed another life in Calgary. As Lauren Pullen reports, the fire chief is continuing to sound the alarm over the staggering number of fires in the city over the last couple of months.

The majority of the serious fires the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) extinguished this past spring were caused by the improper disposal of smoking materials, Calgary’s fire chief said Monday.

“May 2018 was the busiest month in the last five years for building and structure fires in Calgary,” Steve Dongworth said. “We have seen a disturbing trend in building and structure fire this spring, and at least one May fire was caused by arson.”

The city experienced a spike in major, two-alarm fires in May and June, including a rare 4-alarm fire, Dongworth said.

Of the 17 major fire investigations, 10 of them were caused by improper disposal of smoking materials.

READ MORE: Saturday night house fire in northeast Calgary’s leaves 1 person dead

These types of fires are preventable, Dongworth said, adding some people aren’t getting the message about fire safety.

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“Improper disposal of smoking materials has become a serious safety issue in our city,” he said.

Fires that start outside of a home are actually more dangerous, he said, as most fire-detection equipment is usually inside the building allowing the blaze to smoulder longer and gain strength.

These fires also have the potential to affect more than one home meaning families, sometimes multiple families, are at risk of losing everything.

“In some cases, home and property are not insured.”

Dongworth emphasized putting out smoking materials in flower planters, on lawns or in gardens are a bad idea, adding homeowners should follow proper disposal methods at all times.

“These are preventable…and that is frustrating,” he said.

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