It only took 20 seconds for a deliberately set grass fire to spread in B.C. neighbourhood

Click to play video: 'Maple Ridge grass fire spreads in seconds' Maple Ridge grass fire spreads in seconds
Surveillance video illustrates just how fast a fire can spread after two young men discarded a sparked piece of paper. As John Hua reports, it is a reminder of just how dangerous these hot, dry conditions can be – Aug 9, 2018

The careless actions of two men caught on video in Maple Ridge show just how dry conditions are around B.C. right now.

Twenty seconds was all it took for some cotton on the ground to catch on fire and scorch the grass near some homes in a neighbourhood around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Luckily, a bystander driving by and neighbours sprang into action.

By the time the Maple Ridge Fire Department arrived, most of the flames had been stamped out.

“Anyone with a little bit of common sense knows especially now and with all the warnings that you have to, you shouldn’t even be butting out your cigarettes,” neighbour Glenn Morton said.

But this fire was not the result of someone tossing a cigarette or sparks coming from a passing car.

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The fire appears to have been started by two people walking by and deliberately setting the fire.

READ MORE: Wildfire above Horseshoe Bay is 50 per cent contained, shrinks in size

The incident was caught on video.

“I did ask them, ‘Were you smoking and did you accidentally light the grass on fire?’ And the gentleman that stuck around, he said, ‘No,’ and denied it,” neighbour Sarah Reid told Global News.

“Eventually, my neighbour checked the footage and we saw that it was them that started the fire. They thought they were just going to, for fun, light the cotton on fire and watch it burn.”

“They did admit that they were high on fentanyl. They just finished smoking fentanyl in the back bush up there.”

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires map 2018: Current location of wildfires around the province

Officials have been warning residents around B.C. about just how dry conditions are and how quickly a fire can start.

With wildfires raging across B.C., virtually every region of the province is under a campfire ban.

But people don’t seem to be getting the message.

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The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (COS) handed out 42 tickets over the B.C. Day long weekend to people having fires, worth more than $43,000 in total.

Breaking the ban can net you a $1,150 fine, a significant increase from two years ago when the penalty was $345.

Campfires are currently banned everywhere in B.C., except within a part of the Prince George Fire Centre’s jurisdiction and the fog zone on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

To report a wildfire or open-burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555, or *5555 on a cellphone.

— with files from Simon Little

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