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Cigarette sat smouldering for 6 hours before fire erupted in North Vancouver backyard

A worker is seen putting a cigarette butt in the bottom of the hedges while in the backyard.

A shocking video filmed from a North Vancouver family’s backyard is being shared to warn the public about the dangers of improperly disposing of cigarette butts in this hot and dry environment. 

District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Services shared the dramatic video on July 27 with a message from fire Chief Brian Hutchinson with the hopes of asking the public to be careful.

The video starts with two people working in a backyard beside a pool on July 3 at about 8:30 p.m. A worker can be seen walking over to a hedge and ‘disposing’ a cigarette butt. 

“Several hours later, at approximately 3:40 in the morning, the next day, you can see that the fire has begun in an incipient stage and rapidly in about three-and-a-half minutes, becomes fully involved in the hedges,” says Hutchinson.

The video shows the hedge erupting in flames.

Shortly after, a man is seen running towards the fire with a hose to try and douse the large inferno. 

"One of the things that's noticeable about this is not only the significant fire progression, but the amount of ember cast that's coming from that fire,” says Hutchinson. 

A woman can also be seen in the video running out to help. Hutchinson noted they called 911 for help. 

“While the residents are doing a phenomenal job of trying to mitigate the fire and they had activated 911, this had the potential to progress into a significant event,” he says. 

A large number of embers could be seen and there was a lot of heat generated by the fire. 

"It is extremely obvious that a discarded cigarette can have significant impacts to our built environment, to our residential areas,” he says. "That cigarette sat smouldering in that area underneath the shrubs for just over six hours.”

While some people may think they've discarded a cigarette in a safe manner, he’s warning that might not be the case.

“Anytime we put it in an area adjacent to or in locations where there's vegetation, there is huge potential for a fire to evolve from that,” he says. 

The fire department asks the public to be extremely diligent and aware right now about what materials can start a fire. 

To learn more about how you can reduce the risk of wildfires, visit the district’s website.