More than 4,300 fires were reported last year in Alberta, resulting in 166 injuries and 29 deaths.
Fire officials are offering holiday safety reminders in hopes that this year’s toll isn’t higher.
More than two-thirds of household fires are caused by smokers’ materials, cooking — or electrical hazards, they report. Discarded cigarettes have been blamed for a number of fires in Lethbridge this year.
But with so many Christmas lights and decorations in use, officials are also reminding Albertans about electrical safety.
• Turn off indoor as well as outdoor decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
• Follow manufacturers’ instructions for number of light strands.
• Remember indoor lights may not be safe outdoors.
• Don’t overload circuits and don’t place cords under carpets.
• Check for loose bulbs, worn or broken wires, replace damaged sets.
Live Christmas trees must be watered daily, they add — and kept away from heaters, fireplaces and candles. And candles should be placed in a glass holder, and extinguished when people leave the room.
Fireworks to welcome new year
Exhibition Park is planning on seeing out 2017 with a bang, celebrating Canada’s 150 and their own 120th anniversary with a New Year’s Eve fireworks show.
While the traditional New Year’s Eve events at Exhibition Park won’t be happening this year, such as last year’s Rockfest Trooper concert, or Family Fest — which ended its run two years ago — lighting off a surplus supply of fireworks from Whoop-Up Days during the fire ban was felt to be a great way to thank the community for their support over the past year.
“We’ve got some extra stock here that we’re holding on to so why don’t we just have a nice New Year’s celebration and say thank you to southern Alberta for supporting Exhibition Park at Whoop-Up Days and all our events for that matter,” said Exhibition marketing manager Doug Kryzanowski.
That and some extra fireworks purchased to supplement the supply should make for a spectacular show, said Kryzanowski.
Plans are already underway for Exhibition Park’s 125th anniversary, as well as the lineup for the events for 2018 which are scheduled to be announced later in January.
Exhibition Park’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show is free of charge and is being made possible with support from West Coast Amusements, the City and the Province. The show is scheduled for 17-20 minutes beginning at 9 p.m. with viewing and parking on the Exhibition grounds south parking area.
More cocaine seized
More suspected cocaine has been seized in southern Alberta.
The Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP announced Thursday another significant narcotics seizure at the Coutts border crossing.
On Sunday, CBSA officers at Coutts intercepted a commercial vehicle hauling produce from California and destined for an Alberta business. While examining the vehicle, officers uncovered 17 bricks of suspected cocaine with a total weight of 21 kilograms.
Had the suspected cocaine seized been street-ready, it would have been enough for more than 20,000 hits.
The bricks were located in a closet area within the cab.
CBSA officers arrested the driver of the vehicle and turned him and the suspected cocaine over to the RCMP.
Kuldeep Singh, 39, of Calgary is charged on four counts under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. He was scheduled to appear last Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court.
Former city resident honoured
A former Lethbridge resident has been named to receive a rare honour from the Roman Catholic Church.
Austin Mardon and his wife Catherine are being invested in the Order of St. Sylvester, recognizing their advocacy for people living with mental illness or an intellectual handicap.
Mardon now lives in Edmonton and the award — approved by Pope Francis — is being presented there this week. Named after Pope Sylvester (who served from 314 to 335 AD) it is presented to lay members of the church as well as deserving non-Catholics. Across Canada, Mardon has become well known for writing, speaking and advocating for people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.