Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Beiseker grass fire ignited by carelessly discarded cigarette

RCMP Alberta - RCMP are calling on all smokers to keep their cigarette butts to themselves after yet another grass fire was ignited by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

On October 29 at 3:20 pm, Beiseker RCMP responded to a 911 call reporting a grass fire in the ditch along Highway 9, north of Keoma. Fire fighters from Beiseker, Crossfield, Irricana and Rockyview County scrambled to gain control of the fire in severely windy and dry conditions.

The fire spread rapidly and was blown eastward by strong winds. Nearby farmers and residents of the Tscheder Hutterite Colony were able to use farm equipment and create fire barriers which prevented the fire from reaching any nearby farmyards and residences.

After the fire was extinguished, RCMP and Fire investigators were able to locate the source of the fire, a cigarette butt along the shoulder of Highway 9 near Range Road 270.

The past few months have been exceptionally dry and as a result there have been a number of forest fires and grass fires in southern Alberta.“We’ve lost farms, houses, pets, livestock and infrastructure to fires already; and, the greatest loss of all, a volunteer firefighter from Cypress County was killed while fighting a fire this fall", says Corporal Curtis Peters, Media Relations Officer for Southern Alberta. "This is now the second fire that we know was caused by a cigarette butt. Both of these were completely preventable. We need people to get the message and STOP tossing their butts out of vehicles.”

In addition to the psychological consequences that causing a fire would impose, there are also legal and civil actions that a person could face including:
- A fine for littering
- Criminal Charges such as Mischief or Criminal Negligence
- Civil financial responsibility for costs associated to the fire response and repairs.

If members of the public see a fire, they should call 911. If they see someone throwing a cigarette butt out of a vehicle, they should contact their local police and not engage in a confrontation with the person.

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