Calgary

Number of significant fires in Calgary jumped 21% in 2018

Chief Steve Dongworth says many house fires can be prevented and people have to be more careful when they're smoking or cooking because fires have far-reaching impacts on people.

Fires are considered significant when there is more than $100K in damage

Residents watch as firefighters respond to a blaze on Brightoncrest Common S.E. in May 2018. There was a 21 per cent jump in the number of significant fires in Calgary last year. (Submitted by Muneeb Islam)

Calgary's fire chief says he's concerned by an increase in the number of significant house fires last year.

The overall number of fires in 2018 was about the same compared to 2017, but the number of residential fires that caused more than $100,000 in damage was up by 21 per cent .

Chief Steve Dongworth says many house fires can be prevented and people have to be more careful when they're smoking or cooking because fires have far-reaching impacts on people.

"For them it's life-altering, I mean they lose all their possessions, some of them lose their ability to work because their business is in their home or just they don't have the ability to work for awhile," he told CBC News during a year-end interview.

"They have to rebuild their lives and it has a tremendous toll on those people and their neighbours, and often we see more than one home damaged in some of these fires as well."

Dongworth says larger residential fires are also the most dangerous to fight.

"Often they're very fast moving fires in the perimeter of the city, in what is a very lightweight construction and very close together, the homes, so we really have to make a very aggressive attack to be successful," he said.

With files from Scott Dippel

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