This bag of cigarette butts was collected on a short stretch of Chilliwack Lake Road. (Sue Abegg photo)

This bag of cigarette butts was collected on a short stretch of Chilliwack Lake Road. (Sue Abegg photo)

Bag of cigarette butts raises concern for wildfire risk in Chilliwack River Valley

‘I can’t understand how people can throw their butts out the window. It has to stop,’ says CRV resident

An endless stream of cigarette butts flicked out of vehicles along Chilliwack Lake Road has residents hyper-concerned about the terrifying potential for wildfire this summer.

FVRD Electoral Area E director Orion Engar said he’s fielded calls from residents recently “requesting tourism be completely shut down” to protect the Chilliwack River Valley (CRV).

“People are very nervous,” Engar said. “With so many tourists coming it’s disconcerting.”

The CRV “needs more boots on the ground,” he said, adding that volunteer fire department members do an “awesome” job but suggested there was a need for seasonal, full-time forest ranger to patrol and keep lookout.

“I didn’t think there were that many smokers left,” Engar said. “It’s just callous. We can’t be taking that kind of chance in such an unusually hot period, and people should know that.”

CRV resident Sue Abegg is the resident who snapped a photo of a bag of cigarette butts she collected on her regular walk from Bell Acres to the Tamihi Bridge.

Some of the butts landed in tinder-dry grasses on the shoulder of the road that could easily have sparked a flame.

“We are extremely afraid of fire in Bell Acres,” Abegg said.

She pointed to a historical fire that took out the Tamihi bridge in 1938, when the hottest temperature was in the high 30s, not the 40s like recently, with no rain.

She’d already cleaned up that whole section of road on July 2, where she found 90 butts. When she returned after the long weekend, she collected more than 140 cigarette butts along the same stretch, both sides.

She put them in a bag and shot a pic, incensed.

“This is a real concern, it’s no joke,” Abegg added. “I can’t understand how people can throw their butts out the window. It has to stop.”

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Chilliwack River Valley