The Vancouver Park Board is asking Stanley Park cruisers to butt out.
With the searing heat in Vancouver this summer, the forests in the park’s cruising areas could be ignited with one tossed cigarette.
Indeed, a ban on smoking has been in effect in the park since late July.
And, says Parks Board spokeswoman Barb Floden, extra police and ranger patrols have been added to enforce the ban.
“It just takes one cigarette butt and the whole park could go up,” Floden says.
She says the fire hazard is now rated extreme.
And it’s something veteran cruiser Walter Muller worries about as he’s seen cruisers smoking in the park he loves.
“I haven’t seen anyone toss them into the brush because it will set them off,” Muller says. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. The park is tinder dry.”
And, he says, the areas around benches such as the Aaron Webster memorial bench on Tatlow Trail near Second Beach are covered in butts.
People caught with a lit cigarette will be fined, Floden says.
Floden acknowledges there may be folks unaware of the ban and says the public has two options.
She says they can call 911 and have the police deal with the situation.
Or, she says, people could just have a polite word with the smoker.
Further, Floden adds, people are being asked to stay on the trails during the hot dry period to reduce risk in forested areas.
Police and fire officials don’t want to be dealing with accidental fires while they hunt for those believed to be involved with a series of fires in the park since last Friday.
Cruisers can also keep an eye out for an arson suspect, who has set two fires in known cruising areas.
On Jul 30, the Vancouver fire department responded to a report of a tree on fire along a trail in the area of Pipeline Road and Stanley Park Drive.
Arson investigators at Vancouver Police Department were contacted after firefighters determined the fire had been deliberately set.
Just 20 minutes later, two additional fires were observed burning 60 metres apart on the east side of Beaver Lake. The fires were doused by the VFD, leaving a sign and a tree stump damaged.
Witnesses reported seeing a man riding a bicycle in the area near where the fires were set.
The day before, firefighters responded to Brockton Oval where a fire was burning under the bleachers at the running track.
The bleachers sustained considerable damage.