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'I'm very concerned': Councillor asks residents to celebrate Diwali safely after outdoor fires

A southeast Edmonton councillor is asking Edmontonians to celebrate Diwali safely after firefighters responded to several outdoor fires on Sunday.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services told CTV News it received 54 firework complaints and responded to 17 outdoor fires on Sunday; however, it did not confirm if the fires were caused by fireworks.

Diwali — a Hindu festival of lights that includes fireworks shows — took place on Sunday.

Keren Tang, the councillor for the Karhiio ward, celebrated the holiday at an event in Mill Woods.

"[An] organized, authorized fireworks shows done by professionals, that followed all the safety protocols and regulations," Tang told CTV News on Monday. "Started at a reasonable time…so that we can make sure that everyone in the community can enjoy fireworks as part of the Diwali celebrations safely.

"What became clear throughout the night was that there were a lot of fireworks set off on residential properties, in locations without a permit."

Firefighters were called to a large grass fire at Ivor Dent Sports Park on 50 Street just after 9:15 p.m., EFRS said. The fire was out by 10 p.m.

Manjit Singh lives nearby and said the fire was scary.

"It could've spread anywhere…because it's really close to the residential area, but we shouldn't be allowed to do that. It's not safe," she told CTV News at the scene of the fire on Monday, where there were spent fireworks on the ground.

Spent fireworks at Ivor Dent Sports Park on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. (David Ewasuk/CTV News Edmonton)

Singh celebrated Diwali "but not like this."

On Monday, Tang began conversations with Edmonton's fire chief, community leaders and multicultural leaders to work together to celebrate the holiday safely in the future.

"A lot of the temples, a lot of the multicultural communities are working really hard to go by the books, to create a space for people to celebrate safely and inclusively, and I think we need to follow those examples and work with those communities so this can be a good experience for everyone," Tang said.

Tang had a "lovely" experience at the celebration she attended but has heard from Karhiio residents who had a "really rough time" on Sunday night.

"A lot of residents are like, 'We want to respect everyone's ability to celebrate, but going until 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and having multiple calls for fire…this is all very serious and I'm very concerned about all these activities, and we could do a better job as a city to get the word out."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk and Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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