Sherwood Park News Fire Marshal Dale Miller is warning smokersnot to put out their cigarettes in flower pots, as the result could be adevastating fire. More people are stepping outside to smoke now and they are using flower potsas ashtrays, said Miller. Society is such now that nobody is smokinginside. He said that the dry potting soil will basically start a small ground firewithin the pot, as the soil contains shredded wood, bark, peat moss andstyrofoam pellets. It could take four to 24 hours before it shows itself, it depends on thematerial, said Miller. He said it is a common occurrence in the county and it is getting more common.Firefighters attended numerous calls where the ground is smouldering for anunexplained reason. After investigation, it turns out the small fires start froma single cigarette dropped in some dirt or dry leaves. The danger is multiplied when the flower pots are made of plastic. The plastic will melt and can cause the fire to spread very quickly. Earlierthis month, a county resident lost his deck in a fire that started in a plantpot. The best planter to get is one made of clay or metal as they are better atcontaining fire. Miller urges businesses to put out used coffee cans or other metal containersfilled with sand for their employees and patrons to use. Fire Chief Dwight Osbaldeston said you should also not throw cigarettes inditches as they can spark ground fires easily there as well. The recent snowfall may help a bit, it is still dangerously dry says Osbaldeston. It is extraordinarily dry, he said. We are thankful for the moisturethat we got but we need a lot more to get to the point where we arentconcerned. He said since January there have already been seven grass fires in the county. Osbaldeston said anyone planning to burn anything on their acreage, unless it isin a covered fire pit, needs to pick up a burning permit and strictly abide byit. You can only burn under the conditions imposed, he said. Permits can be found on the countys Web site at www.strathcona.ab.ca or atthe rural fire halls. They can be picked up at the Cooking Lake Hall onWednesday nights or at the Ardrossan hall on Thursdays. There is no cost for a burning permit.