05/07/2015 03:56 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT

Vancouver arson incidents increase as weather warms up

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says warmer weather is leading to an early increase in arson across the city and is asking residents to look out for suspicious activity, especially in laneways.

"In the month of April, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services has seen a rapid rise in the number of reportable fires identified as being the result of arson," said Capt. Brian Hutchinson.

The fires have been spread throughout the city and haven't affected certain neighbourhoods more than others.

Every year average monthly fire incidents nearly double from about 275 to 500 from May to September, he noted.

"We do start to see a bit of an increase in the number of fires as we get into warmer weather," he said.

Of all the fires that the department investigated in 2014, about 26 per cent were thought to have been deliberately set, resulting in $7 million in property damage. 

Hutchinson recommends residents install motion-detecting lights to deter trespassers.

He also suggests keeping flammable materials like garbage and recycling bins inside. If that's not possible, bins and anything flammable should at least be kept away from structures like sheds and homes. 

"You need to be aware that having them out does provide an opportunity for someone looking for this type of activity," said Hutchinson.

If residents see any suspicious activity, they should phone police. 

"Police and fire officials would rather respond to 911 calls about suspicious activities than go out on fire calls," said the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services in a written statement.