Calgary

Tossed cigarette started grass fire northeast of Calgary, officials say

The fire on Sunday was helped on its speedy way by tinder dry conditions and strong winds, the same factors that led to multiple fires across the province over a week ago.

RCMP are reminding smokers of the consequences of throwing lit butts into tinder dry conditions

RCMP said a discarded cigarette butt lit a fire that rapidly spread out of control northeast of Calgary on Sunday. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

A grass fire that spread rapidly and threatened farms and homes north of Keoma in southern Alberta was caused by a discarded cigarette butt, according to RCMP.

The fire on Sunday was helped on its speedy way by tinder dry conditions and strong winds, the same factors that led to multiple fires across the province almost two weeks ago. 

Those fires claimed the lives of multiple animals, destroyed homes and took the life of volunteer firefighter James Hargrave.

"This is now the second fire that we know was caused by a cigarette butt. Both of these were completely preventable. We need people to get the message and stop tossing their butts out of vehicles," said Cpl. Curis Peters with the RCMP in a news release.

Farm equipment barricade

Sunday's fire was stopped in part thanks to the actions of nearby farmers and residents of the Tschetter Hutterite Colony, who formed a fire barrier using farm equipment, blocking it from advancing on nearby farms and homes. 

Crews from Beiseker, Crossfield, Irricana and Rocky View County battled the blaze about 50 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

Once out, RCMP said they tracked the source of the fire to a cigarette butt along the shoulder of Highway 9 and Range Road 270.

RCMP are reminding smokers that tossing a butt out the window of a car, beyond causing a fire, can also result in a fine for littering, criminal charges such as mischief or criminal negligence and financial responsibility for the costs of fighting the fire and repairs. 

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