Crews battle ‘stubborn’ grass fire near Hwy 401: London Fire Department

Several London fire department crews are battling a “stubborn” grass fire at Highway 401 and Highbury Avenue Thursday evening. London Fire Department Twitter

Multiple fire crews were called to a grass fire in the west bound lanes of Highway 401 near the Highbury Avenue on-ramp.

Crews worked quickly to extinguish the “stubborn large grass fire” before it reached the Buchanan Electrical Substation and the Peterbilt Truck Centre.

“I don’t know exactly how threatened the power station actually was, but the wind was moving the fire in that direction,” said Platoon Chief Shawn Fitzgerald.

He says 22 fire fighters and three water tankers were needed to help get it under control.

“We need large numbers of people to stretch hose lines, we had strong winds, fortunately it was blowing away from the highway so it wasn’t causing visibility issues, but we have to get ahead for fires like that being blown by the wind, so it does help having a large number of fire fighters on scene.”

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Officials say in all, about five acres of land were scorched by the flames.

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“Crews did a good job to work hard in different circumstances than we’re use to, we’re used to structure fires in London and not wildland fires,” said Fitzgerald.

London Fire Department provided an update on Twitter just before 8 p.m. Thursday, saying all flames and hot spots had been put out.

Officials believe the fire was likely caused by someone tossing a cigarette butt out their car window.

“It’s hard to determine cause, there was no lightning or nothing really indicating cause, we can only assume that possibly a lit cigarette was tossed from a car window,” said Fitzgerald, adding that it’s an assumption, but a very probable cause at this point.

He says carelessly discarded cigarettes and dry conditions are a bad combination.

“A small activity like throwing your cigarette out a window can create quite a large fire very quickly,” said Fitzgerald.

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