Garden hose and good neighbours save a home

On Sunday, with strong and gusty wind blowing, neighbours of a Lyons St. residence saw fire taking hold of this Virden home and got their water hose going. With the additional help of Wallace District Fire Department, this home was saved.

Fire Chief Brad Yochim reports it was 3:48 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, when Virden firefighters were paged out to a structure fire at a house in Virden.

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On arrival the back side of the house was burning at the deck and up the back and side of the house. Nobody was home at the time but two quick thinking neighbours were there and spraying the fire with a garden hose. They had almost put the fire out when firefighters arrived and finished the extinguishment.

Yochim says the quick work of these neighbours stopped the fire from spreading into the home. The fire was contained to the deck and outside of the house and although there was some smoke within, the home would be liveable.

The home owner arrived shortly afterwards.

Cause of the fire is thought to be from a cigarette butt in an ashtray that was blown up against the back wall of the building. Strong winds fueled the cigarette butt until it caught the siding and deck on fire.

Eighteen firefighters attended the scene. This was the second housefire in Virden within 11 days. A previous fire badly damaged a residence on Nelson St. The cause was not known at the time of the fire.

Snuff it out safely

Yochim said in a Facebook post: “With the strong winds we have had lately, use caution with open ashtrays. Cigarette butts can hold heat in them for days and just need a wind to set them on fire. Empty them often.”

Cigarette butts are one of the leading causes of fires.

Two of four housefires in Winnipeg also occurring last Sunday were determined to be caused by the careless disposal of a cigarette, as well as a late May Winnipeg fire.

It’s tempting to flick a cigarette butt out the car window or off a balcony/deck. But don’t, especially when conditions are dry. Shallow ashtrays, dry potting mix (plant pots) and plastic containers are not fire smart places to butt smoking materials either. Potting mixes may be high in peat moss and a fire can smolder in this dry vegetative material.

And of course, don’t dispose of butts in the regular trash without extinguishing them in water first.

Deep metal ashtrays (available at some hardwares for about $45) with sand or water in the bottom are a good investment.

© Virden Empire-Advance