Fires in Kamloops increase, but reason unclear
There’s no set pattern and no obvious cause, but Kamloops is catching fire far more often than it did in 2011.
So far this year, Kamloops Fire Rescue has responded to 10 more structure fires than it did in the first six months of 2011, Chief Neill Moroz told KTW.
Moroz said the department has responded to 300 structure fires, 46 of which were significant — causing enough damage to require reporting.
That’s compared to 67 significant structure fires overall in 2011.
“Ten more halfway through the year is a significant number of us.
“We don’t like that number,” Moroz said, noting it’s not clear why the numbers are suddenly on a rise.
According to KFR’s year-end reports, the number of significant structure fires has been dropping during the past few years, with 90 reported in 2009 and 84 cited in 2010.
While the fire department is still dealing with a rash of arsons on the North Shore and in the downtown core, Moroz said those fires — about 75 during the past year and mostly focused on garbage cans, recycling bins and backyard sheds — are a separate issue.
The structure fires aren’t suspicious, have started for a variety of reasons and are not limited to any particular area of the city.
“We have no idea on the structure fires,” Moroz said.
“Other than those fires downtown and on the North Shore, where we know we have someone lighting those fires, there’s no set pattern to the structure fires.”
Building are not the only place the department is seeing an increase.
Moroz said vehicle fires to date are about double last year’s numbers, while wildland fires have tripled.
KFR is not sure what to make of the increase in vehicle fires, but Moroz said hotter, drier weather and people tossing cigarettes into grasslands both play a role in the increase in wildland blazes.
Within city limits, nearly all wildland fires are human-caused, he said, often because someone tossed a cigarette butt from a moving vehicle.
“It just floors me that with all that’s going on and how dry it is out there, that people continue to do that,” Moroz said.
“I don’t understand that one, when it’s such a preventable thing.”
Moroz said the department has already stepped up its fire-prevention efforts to try to combat the rising numbers.
He is also reminding people to keep their smoke alarms in good working order to ensure a fire is detected as soon as possible.
“That gives us that fighting chance to save their property,” he said.
Smoke alarms are crucial to saving lives
Research done by Surrey Fire Services, in partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley, shows almost 70 per cent of houses that caught fire did not have a functioning smoke alarm.
The research predicts working smoke alarms could reduce annual fire deaths by as much as 32 per cent.
The research findings also indicate the province’s most vulnerable populations — such as children and the elderly — face the highest risk of dying in a residential fire.