Abbotsford Fire Rescue is warning residents to take extra care after the recent stretch of hot weather, especially with cigarettes, after attending five brush fires in a three-day period last week.
"We had five grass fires between Wednesday and Friday," said AFRS Lieut. Martin Sunderland, noting the hot dry conditions require extra vigilance to prevent grass or forest fires.
AFRS was also called out to deal with a fire, likely sparked by a cigarette, at Tenbrook Elementary midday on Monday.
Grassy areas, bush and bark mulch are all tinder dry and carelessly discarded cigarettes are the most common source of fires at this time of year, said Sunderland.
"It happens a lot. People think the cigarettes are going to go out when they hit the ground . . . but they don't, and if conditions are windy, a fire like that can take off incredibly quickly."
Smokers need to be careful and discard cigarettes in non-combustible ashtrays, he added.
A total burning ban is in effect for the municipality of Abbotsford from June 1 to Sept. 30, and that includes campfires, burn barrels and wood-fuelled burn pits. Outdoor cooking is allowed with charcoal briquettes, natural gas, or propane-fuelled appliances. In Abbotsford, people can be fined $500 for discarding burning substances, including cigarettes, or for violating the burning ban. Those who cause accidental fires may be charged cost recovery fees or possibly face criminal charges.
The province issued warnings and upgraded the fire hazard level to high, said Sunderland. Campers or recreationalists in the woods or outlying areas should take extra care.
"Dirt bikes or any powered equipment that sparks or has heated metal can ignite fires," he warned.
Abbotsford has farmland and forests - both of which increase the risk of a serious wildfire, warned AFRS. Those with questions can call 604-853-3566.
Other than regular restrictions, there is no burning ban in the District of Mission at this time.