The Courtenay Fire Department shared this photo of a dumpster fire that firefighters had to put out in August 2020. (Supplied by deputy fire chief Kurt MacDonald)
Dumpster fires are on the rise in Courtenay.
The latest one happened around 9:00pm last night, when firefighters were called to a garbage container on fire in the 1100 block of Cliff Avenue.
Crews quickly knocked it down, and there was no damage to nearby buildings.
Deputy fire chief Kurt MacDonald says they’ve seen a dramatic jump in these kinds of fires in the city: “We’re well over 16 of them for the tail end of 2020, early 2021 which is a considerable increase over years past.”
MacDonald says it’s hard to say if it’s a firebug at work or someone just trying to stay warm.
“The challenge that we have, and the RCMP for that matter, in trying to find out the cause of this is often there are no witnesses, there are no security cameras in the area of the dumpsters,” he added.
“Pretty much by the time we get there it’s because somebody has driven by well after the fire has started and reported the flames licking out of the top.”
MacDonald said the best way to keep this problem in check is to secure your dumpsters and garbage bins.
“I know it’s inconvenient to do this but lock your dumpsters,” he said. “They all have provision on there with chains or other mechanisms to secure the lids which would make it very difficult for people to light them on fire if that’s what’s happening.”
He also reminds people not to dump combustible materials or cleaning solutions into them.
“Safer practices when your disposing your refuse, locking your dumpster, and of course if you do see any suspicious activity in and around your dumpsters, by all means contact the RCMP or have them attend or call us if you see a fire being lit, have us attend early, and hopefully between us and the RCMP, we can catch the individual who may be doing this.”