NWT fire marshal Chucker Dewar is reminding residents of appropriate cigarette disposal methods after an improperly extinguished cigarette was found to be the cause of the June 10 fire at 1 Glick Ct.
The fire, which originated from the back exterior deck and spread to the roof, occurred shortly after a resident extinguished a cigarette.
On preliminary investigation, Dewar said $400,000 of damages are estimated.
Even though the resident had a butt can, Dewar said that cigarettes are highly combustible and that if other dried cigarette butts are in the can, a lit butt could still cause flames.
The office of the fire marshal is concerned with the number of smoker-related fires they’re seeing in the territory.
Though all jurisdictions in Canada struggle with data reporting, the NWT is small enough that “when a trend starts to develop, we can pick it up very easily,” Dewar said.
Fires started by smokers’ materials are the leading cause of fire-related deaths in the country, according to Health Canada.
Dewar stressed the importance of putting out cigarettes in proper containers, with sand or water to extinguish the embers and a lid to limit oxygen.
“A fire needs three things,” he explained, “fuel, heat and oxygen. If you take away one, you don’t have a fire.”
A common misconception is that cigarettes can be put out in dirt, Dewar said. In the territory dirt often has peat moss, which is flammable, he said.
Dewar also cautioned against tossing cigarette butts, even once extinguished, directly into garbage cans and repeated that cigarettes, matches and lighters should always be kept out of reach of children.
Smokers should smoke outside, away from others and away from the structure when possible. If smoking does occur in the house, Dewar said to double check the area before going to bed to ensure ashes or embers didn’t escape around furniture or other household items that could cause a fire.
Representatives from Winmar property restoration specialists were on scene on Monday June 14, tending to the residence’s damages. The smell of smoke was still present four days after the event.
Residents of the home had evacuated once emergency services arrived on scene around 11 a.m. June 10 and no injuries have been reported.
The City of Yellowknife Fire Division (YKFD) and Municipal Enforcement Division (MED) remained on scene for two hours extinguishing the fire.