Tossed butts problematic for fire crews

NANAIMO – Warmer weather means an increase in fires from carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

Warmer weather has inspired Nanaimo residents to get out the shorts and flip flops, but it has also meant an increase in fires from carelessly  tossed cigarette butts.

Along with the sun, fire crews are seeing an increase in bark mulch and landscape fires over the last couple weeks and the culprit is often cigarette butts, said Ennis Mond, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer.

People toss cigarette butts in planters, meridians or landscaping year-round, but it becomes a real problem as things dry out.

“As the weather warms up, definitely it’s dried out out there and we’re just cautioning the public about how they extinguish their cigarettes,” said Mond. “The big message is not to toss the cigarette butts out of the car. We’re getting called out to these nuisance calls and if we’re required for a medical aid or structure fire somewhere else, potentially there could be a delay.”

Another thing fire crews are seeing right now is people clipping branches with tent caterpillars on them and then burning the branches in an effort to kill the caterpillars.

That’s problematic because backyard burning is banned in Nanaimo except by permit and so crews have to attend these fires as well, said Mond.