Councillor smouldering after small fire threatens distillery

It’s probably a good thing CJ Rhodes is not a bylaw officer.

The Osoyoos councillor had tough words for smokers this afternoon — especially those careless enough to flick a burning butt out a car window.

“I’m not going to pass judgement on anybody that smokes cigarettes — that’s your own personal choice,” he said. “But it does become a public nuisance when you’re throwing them out your window and starting fires in our community.”

His comments came after a tossed cigarette butt caused a fire on Lakeshore Drive this morning that threatened Tumbleweed Spirits.

The new distillery was singed by flames but survived after Osoyoos firefighters arrived quickly to put out the blaze.

A tree adjacent to the building went up like a candle.


“It was close,” said Osoyoos fire chief Rick Jones. “We were lucky because there was somebody there who saw it and they got a garden hose and started sprinkling on it.”

Osoyoos, he said, is not threatened by wildfire like other BC communities.

“Our setup isn’t as bad as other areas for interface fires — we only have the forest on one side,” he explained. “You can lose a lot of houses fast if the forest catches on fire.

“We’re orchards and greenery — it’s not 100 percent safe but it’s better than everywhere else.”

But, Chief Jones is quick to add, a tossed cigarette can still do a lot of damage.

“Everything is tinder dry. Anything can ignite really easily.”

And that’s what has Counc. Rhodes in a smoulder.

“Five seconds to burn 200 feet — that’s all it takes when you throw a cigarette,” he said. “I would like to ask everybody that smokes — or knows somebody that smokes — find some other way to get rid of them.

“Keep them, look after them. They’re your responsibility.”


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