With hot, dry weather continuing, local firefighters urge caution with any potential fire ignition sources.
“We’ve had extremely hot and dry weather and it looks like it’s going to continue,” says Capt. Rob Kivell, Oak Bay’s fire prevention officer.
“Right now the coastal region of B.C. is rated as extreme,” Kivell says. That rating means “extremely dry forest fuels and the fire risk is very serious. New fires will start easily, spread rapidly, and challenge fire suppression efforts,” he notes.
Firefighters responded earlier this month to a smouldering fire that could have quickly become more serious.
“Uplands and Walbran parks are very dry and we had a couple of small, smouldering fires there,” he says, noting “typically a grass fire will double in size every 30 seconds.”
One of the biggest fire risks remains carelessly discarded smoking materials, he says, urging people to be vigilant with how they use and dispose of cigarettes and related materials.
Beyond cigarettes and matches, those using parks and public spaces should remove all garbage, be cautious with glass, which can magnify the sun’s rays to spark fire, and take extra care with barbecues and similar gear.
Avoid parking vehicles in grassy areas where a hot undercarriage can ignite a fire. “Be very careful of where you park your vehicle during hot, dry conditions.”
Tools that generate heat or sparks should also be used with caution.
“Using any type of equipment that can give off sparks or has radiant heat to it can have risk,” Kivell says, recommending people let tools cool before placing them near potentially combustible material or grass.
“Just be vigilant with all ignition sources,” Kivell says.
Being prepared for the possibility of fire, especially for those living adjacent to parks or other at risk areas, can also prevent a more serious situation.
“Always have a hose nearby and have it ready to use,” Kivell says.
And if you do notice any signs of smoke or fire, don’t wait to call firefighters.
“Phone 911 right away if you spot a fire,” Kivell says.
“The sooner we get there the more likely we are to contain it.”