The four-alarm fire that engulfed a 64-unit condo building at the end of May now has a confirmed cause, the Calgary Fire Department stated in a release on Wednesday.
The fire, which forced 200 people to evacuate from their homes in the early hours of May 30, was evidently started by the improper disposal of a cigarette butt from the night prior.
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“We have now officially determined that the cause of the Inglewood condo fire was careless disposal of smoking materials in an outdoor planter on a patio,” said Travis Thiessen, the acting fore investigation coordinator for the Calgary Fire Department.
The cigarette had been disposed of at 10:30 pm on Tuesday night and grew to a blaze that needed 25 fire apparatuses to extinguish.
The fire was one of the largest that Calgary has ever seen, though luckily — and thanks to the swift work of the Calgary Fire Department — no injuries were reported during the incident.
Thiessen stated in the release that this has been an “extreme” year when it comes to fires started by improperly disposed of cigarette butts and other smoking material.
“We’ve seen three careless disposal fires in the last five days,” said Thiessen in the release.
“This has been an unusual and extreme year for smoking-related fires in Calgary.”
Approximately 35% of Calgary building fires in May and June were caused by smoking-related material, accounting for 17 of the 53 fires in a two-month span.
“Of the 25 most serious building fires during May and June, 13 of these fires have been found to have been caused by, or suspected cause, careless disposal, underlining the severity of accidental fires related to smoking materials,” the release states.
It’s not only the Fire Department and homeowners who want to keep their properties unburnt that are against the improper disposal of cigarette butts, as Calgary City Councillor Druh Farrell recently tweeted a photo of a letter she received from a Calgary classroom.
Signed “Sincerely Hillhurst School Room 2,” the letter states that cigarette butts discarded around the Kensington neighbourhood are a problem that needs to be addressed.
“If smokers stop throwing cigarettes on the ground Kensington will be nicer.”
I agree. pic.twitter.com/pXzRtB7Xst
— Druh Farrell (@DruhFarrell) July 17, 2018
“If smokers stop throwing cigarettes on the ground Kensington will be nicer, fresher, and more people will want to live in Kensington,” the letter states. Farrell wrote in an accompanying tweet that she agrees with the sentiment.
Calgary residents are warned to never put out cigarettes or other smoking materials in potted plants, gardens, on lawns, or in peat moss, and should instead use a sturdy metal container filled partway with sand or water.
More information about fire prevention can be found at the City of Calgary’s website.