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Vancouver Island firefighters warn motorists about carelessly butting out

Outdoor fires caused by discarded cigarettes continue to cause economic damage
Central Saanich Fire is warning motorists about discarding cigarettes from their vehicles as they can cause rapidly spreading fires as was the case two years along Highway 17. (Central Saanich Fire/Twitter)

A Vancouver Island fire department is reminding the public that it does not take much to cause a grass or bush fire, especially with dry weather in the coming days.

Central Saanich Fire has issued a warning in the wake of a recent study.

According to the 2019 study published by the University of Fraser Valley, drawing on Canada’s National Fire Information Database (NFID) and other sources, cigarettes were the primary cause of fires in B.C. and Alberta, the only two provinces that reported on cigarettes as an ignition source.

About 11 per cent of outdoor fires were caused by smoker’s materials from 2012 to 2015, based on available NFID data, with the overall number of outdoor fires, and those caused by smoker’s materials, declining. British Columbia, however, remains the notable exception due to a spike in wildfires in 2015, it reads.

RELATED: Vehicle access remains for LAU,WELNEW/John Dean Park in North Saanich

“Although there has been an overall decrease in actual numbers of smoking materials-related fires, there is still work to be done to reduce smoking materials as a cause of fires across the country, as evidenced by their significant casualty and economic toll,” it reads.

The report notes that residential smoking material fires caused approximately 85 injuries and 16 deaths each year across Ontario, B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan (representing 70 per cent of Canada’s population).

“As well, more than $1.5 million in economic losses from outdoor smoking fires were reported to the NFID from 2012-2015, with B.C. reporting the highest loss (more than $1 million in 2012),” it reads.

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