Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Neighbours horrified as dangerous marine flares shot off near homes in Maple Bay

Illegal to use distress flares except in emergencies

A couple in Maple Bay are raising the alarm after marine distress flares were fired off on the night of Dec. 12 near their home.

Sally Meecham and Paul Bland live close to the water in Maple Bay on Arbutus Avenue.

Although the popular annual Christmas afloat event was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, about six boats decked out in lights held their own marine parade in the bay anyway that night, and one or more people near Arbutus Avenue fired off two marine distress flares in an apparent ill-suited and dangerous effort to help celebrate the small parade of boats.

Bland said the first flare was launched from somewhere behind his home and then exploded before it came close to landing on one of the Christmas float boats.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN VALLEY REGIONAL DISTRICT CONSIDERS OPTIONS FOR FIREWORKS AFTER RECEIVING COMPLAINTS

“The second flare was not launched in the air but rather shot more directly and it exploded right in front of us,” he said.

“A neighbour and us thought there was an earthquake or power poles exploding. The entire interior of the house level we were on glowed a bright orange, and the doors and the house shook. It goes without saying that had we been sitting outside on our chairs watching the floats, or had the parachute flare exploded on a rooftop, the destruction would have been disastrous.”

Bland said, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve just days away, the couple is concerned about more marine distress flares being fired off in the area.

“We anticipate it may be a very long time before we are able to enjoy other public celebrations without hiding and being prepared to flee or douse flames,” he said.

“Our neighbours in the bay are also very angry and concerned and they too are worried for their safety. In a year that has been anything but normal, the last thing any of us wants is someone’s home or the bay being set ablaze.”

RELATED STORY: HOLIDAY LIGHTS TWINKLE ON WATER OF MAPLE BAY FOR SAIL PAST

Distress flares, which burn at the melting point of steel and contain toxic chemicals, are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries.

They are designed for marine distress and are deliberately difficult to extinguish.

A statement from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment said the police had not been made aware of this incident, and encouraged anyone involved to reach out to report safety concerns.

The statement said the Canada Shipping Act Collisions Regulations notes that it is an offence to use a distress signal for a purpose other than to indicate distress, or to use a signal that may be confused with a distress signal.

Each of these offences can come with a $173 fine with a surcharge.

“Transport Canada has created a guide for marine safety that states that flares should always be shot into the wind and away from the vessel at a 45-degree angle so it will drift back over your position,” the statement said.

“Never point a flare at another person, and always treat flares as explosive devices. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP encourages anyone using marine vessels or around the water to ensure that they have the necessary and required safety equipment and that others with them are also acting responsibly.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Community

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read