City councillor pitches ban on selling lighters to minors

A Winnipeg city councillor has suggested youth under 18 be banned from buying lighters.

Winnipeg crews called to 4 fires in 1 hour on Thursday

A Winnipeg city councillor has suggested youth under 18 be banned from buying lighters. CBC’s Marjorie Dowhos reports. 1:53

A Winnipeg city councillor has suggested youth under 18 be banned from buying lighters.

Paula Havixbeck put that idea out on Facebook on Wednesday after police said most arsons are started by kids using lighters. Havixbeck said the vast majority of responses she got back were a loud and clear "no."

"But what it proved to me on Facebook was that there's dialogue in the community that needs to occur [and] that isn't occuring right now," she said.

Havixbeck said people were more focused on who was keeping an eye on the children starting the fires.

"People were adamant that parents need to much more involved in where their kids are and what's going on," she said.

Curfews and stiffer penalities were also among the suggestions people made.

 Havixbeck says another idea might be to open schools during the summer to give kids a place to go and something to do, rather than wandering aimlessly.

"That's a nice air conditioned place. Kids can go play basketball, do some kind of a sport, burn off some of that energy, and be more productive, building a sense of camaraderie in the community versus going out, being idle, hanging around and getting into trouble," she said.

4 fires, 1 hour

Winnipeg police and fire crews were called to four fires in one hour on Thursday morning in the city's North End neighbourhood.

It all happened between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. with the first breaking out in the 700 block of Pritchard Avenue, where a garage and the vehicle inside were on fire.

Damage is estimated at $40,000 and arson has been cited as the cause, police said.

The second happened nearby, in the 800 block of Pritchard. The fire, also deemed as arson, caused about $150,000 damage to a 1½ -storey home.

Alba Menjiver lives on Pritchard across from where the fire broke out. She said she sees children wandering in her backlane at all hours of the day.

"So far what I’m seeing is children are not being supervised. They are fooling around on the street and that is something I never agree with," said Menjiver.

Shortly after the Pritchard fire, a mattress and fence were on fire in the 900 block of Manitoba Avenue, followed by a couch burning in the alley of the 800 block of Alfred Avenue.

Police are still working to determine if arson is also the cause of those two fires.