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Vancouverites warned not to be complacent as fire season winds down

Last Updated Sep 30, 2017 at 11:07 am PST

A Vancouver fire hazard sign at Stanley Park in July 2017. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The fire danger rating across Metro Vancouver parks has dropped to low now that temperatures have cooled off and we’ve had some rain. But crews are worried that may lead people to become complacent.

The mulch deep down is still dry in many places and Vancouver Fire Captain Jonathan Gormick says the problem over the summer was smokers throwing away their cigarette butts.

“We were very fortunate to have no major dollar losses from a fire started by cigarette butts, but we still did have a number of brush fires caused by that. It’s troubling because it is entirely preventable.”

A fine in Vancouver for throwing a butt has gone up to $500.

“That still didn’t stop people from throwing butts away,” Gormick says.

“I’m not really sure what the answer to that is going to be.”

He says catching people in the act is difficult, and a cultural shift is probably what’s needed.

“Anything that makes it seem less socially acceptable is generally what changes dangerous behaviour like that,” he says.

“It’s infuriating because it is kind of a disgusting habit. It’s littering, it’s bad for wildlife because they ingest the cigarette butts which contain all the toxins from the cigarettes. There’s absolutely no reason to do it, there are plenty of safe receptacles for cigarette butts.”