Spike in fires blamed on cigarettes extinguished in flower pots or mulch
A person smokes a cigarette. (Pawel Dwulit / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Firefighters are once again warning people of the dangers of putting cigarettes out in flower pots or mulch.
After a fire that started that way above Milano’s grocery store in Little Italy over the weekend, Montreal fire prevention Chief Stephane Dorion says that’s not the spot to put out a smoke.
“All the chemicals that are inside the cedar mulch or the flower pots are decomposing and the heat from the cigarette or any kind of heat source just ignites it,” he said.
Dorion said these kinds of fires appear to be on the rise since April.
“Since April we had 20 confirmed fires in the area of the island of Montreal from flower pots or cedar mulch that were ignited by a heat source,” he said, adding that since June 1, there have been approximately 150 calls concerning these kinds of fires.
In May, a cigarette stubbed out in a flower pot caused a fire that destroyed a home in Terrebonne and damaged two other buildings.
Earlier that month, the second floor of an apartment building in Ahuntsic-Cartierville was damaged after, again, a cigarette was thrown into a flower pot.
Doiron said Quebec’s new smoking laws could be an explanation for this spike.
“That’s probably one of the reasons,” he said.
He warned that the fire can propagate very fast, but can also be very slow and in some cases can even take as long as five days before starting a fire.
The smartest move for smokers, he said, is to butt out only where you’re supposed to – a non-combustible environment like concrete, metal or sand. This could mean an ashtray with sand in it, or to extinguish it fully on the sidewalk, then pick it up to throw it away.