Winnipeg fire officials are warning homeowners to clean up their properties as the weather warms up and the snow melts, revealing garbage in back lanes and yards that can be set ablaze by arsonists.
Three garages in the city were damaged by fire on Friday morning. One blaze happened on Polson Avenue and two garages were damaged in a fire on Anderson Avenue.
"I came out in the morning and I looked through the door and the car … it's toast," said Jacob Smith, whose 1996 Saturn was destroyed in the Anderson Avenue garage fires.
"I thought … 'My car's in there and my car's on fire' and [about] all the trouble I'm going to have to go through now."
Investigators have not yet determined if the garage fires were deliberately set.
Still, fire officials say residents should do what they can this spring to protect their properties from firebugs.
"It's warming up and there's a lot of refuse left behind by the snow melt: leaves, discarded newspapers, things like that. It's all just materials for easy ignition," said Marc Proulx, a public education co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Proulx said fire crews will be driving trucks up and down back lanes and vacant lots next week to look for combustible materials that pile up at this time of year.
Volunteers clean up downtown
Meanwhile, more than 900 kilograms of litter was picked up from the streets of downtown on Friday as part of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's eighth annual Earth Day cleanup.
More than 400 business and community members teamed up with the BIZ's Metro Enviro-Team and staff from Thunderbird House and Millennium Library for the event.
They removed litter and other garbage from a large section of the city core, from the corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street south to Donald Street.