Dry conditions bring high risk: Oak Bay fire

Signs posted at Uplands Park warn park users to be cautious

Oak Bay Fire Capt. Rob Kivell

Oak Bay firefighters warn residents and visitors to be diligent in their fire prevention measures with the extra dry conditions.

Oak Bay fire has posted signs in the district’s parks and public spaces warning of the fire hazard, said Capt. Rob Kivell, Oak Bay’s fire prevention officer.

“The unseasonably dry spring has increased the risk in our local parks and public spaces with regard to fire risk,” Kivell said.

“Without any significant precipitation in the forecast, it is expected that the grass and foliage in our urban forests and parks will continue to dry.”

The fire rating from the Coastal Fire Centre for Oak Bay is now at a high hazard rating, meaning forest fuels are very dry and the fire risk is serious.

New fires may start easily, burn vigorously and challenge fire suppression efforts.

The signs serve to both warn and educate the public of the current fire danger, Kivell said.

“We encourage residents and visitors to be cautious with smoking materials and dispose of them in an appropriate manner when in the outdoors.”

And it’s not only cigarettes that can cause a risk.

“Anything can start a wildfire – it can even be a piece of glass,” Kivell said.

While people may assume the few days of cooler weather and rain have made a difference, it’s not the case, Kivell said. “It’s not enough.

“You get a false sense of security when you have a rain like that.”

Fortunately, while Uplands Park is a natural space, a water supply is available should a wildfire start.

In addition to being careful with flammable materials in parks and public greenspaces, residents can also take steps around their own property to minimize the risk.

“Make sure you have water available in case there’s a fire that’s close to you,” Kivell said.

It’s also a good idea to keep plants and shrubs well-kept and even if you let grass go dormant, make sure it’s short.”

Other suggestions from FireSmart Canada include:

• Planting fire-resistant plants that don’t readily ignite from flame or other ignition sources.

These can be damaged or killed by fire but their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and fire intensity.

These plants would have moist, supple leaves; little dead wood and tendency not to accumulate dead material; water-like sap with little or no odour; sap or resin material.

• Conversely, highly flammable plant would have fine, dry, dead material within the plant, stems, branches and leaves containing volatile waxes, terpenes or oils; aromatic leaves; gummy resinous sap with a strong odour; and loose, papery bark.

• Bark mulch and other plant-based mulches offer benefits to gardens but are susceptible to ignition from wildfire embers or cigarettes. When landscaping against your home, consider using gravel mulch, rock mulch, or a combination of plant mulch and decorative rock mulch to reduce the risk.

For more information, visit firesmartcanada.ca

To report smoke or fires, contact the Oak Bay Fire Department emergency line at 9-1-1.

For questions or information about making your home and property more fire-safe, call the non-emergency line at 250-592-9121.


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