Montreal fire department issues warning about butting out in flower pots after uptick in fires

In this June 22, 2012, file photo, a smoker puts out a cigarette. The fire department is warning Montrealers about the dangers of putting out cigarettes in flower pots. Friday, July 24, 2020. Rich Pedroncelli/AP/ The Canadian Press

The Montreal fire department is reminding people not to butt out their cigarettes in flower pots or flower beds.

The department says people doing just that has already caused 125 fires in Montreal, resulting in over $1 million in damages.

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“This is twice as many as in 2019, when there were only 50 such fires,” reads a statement on the fire department’s website.

With summer far from over and people spending more time at home enjoying their balconies and patios because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials are urging caution.

While butting out in a pot of earth might seem safe, potting soil can contain materials like sod and peat moss, which, according to the fire department, are flammable.

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Despite being flammable, it can take up four or five hours for the first flames to appear after a cigarette is extinguished.

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That implies there might not be anyone around to notice the flames breaking out and prevent the fire from spreading.

The fire department recommends using an ashtray placed on a stable surface and protected from the wind or a jam jar filled with wet sand or water

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