The continuing hot, dry weather has prompted the Oak Bay Fire Department to remind residents to be extremely cautious with any flammable materials.
“The District of Oak Bay contains a number of grassland and bush areas including Anderson Hill Park and Uplands Park…the largest natural park area, encompassing approximately 75 acres,” notes Capt. Rob Kivell, from Oak Bay’s Fire Prevention Division.
Over the years, many of the natural grassland areas have accumulated considerable combustible materials, meaning fires can quickly develop into serious incidents. “These fires may threaten individual homes as well as the lives of residents living in the involved areas,” Kivell cautions.
Low amounts of rainfall, low humidity and elevated daytime temperatures all contribute to the hazard of wild land fires. However, “of all weather conditions, wind has the greatest effect on wildfires. The addition of wind to any wild land fire has the potential to greatly increase the severity of the incident.”
In addition to fanning the flames, wind can transport burning branches and embers to new areas of unburned grass, bush or even shake roofs.
The Oak Bay Fire Department’s Beware and Prepare program aims to reduce the threat of grassland and bush fires to properties in the interface zone.
To engage residents in essential fire-prevention measures during this extended hot, dry spell, the department has created a checklist to identify ways to reduce home and property wildfire hazards and prepare family and neighbours in the event of grassland and/or bush fires.
For more information, call the Oak Bay Fire Department at 250-592-9121. If you discover a grassland or bush fire, call 9-1-1.
Beware and Prepare
• Remove dead branches overhanging your roof.
• Remove any branches within 3 metres (10 feet) of your chimney. (A permit may be required for Garry oak trees – contact the Parks Department.)
• Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
• Cover the opening on your chimney and stovepipe with a non-flammable screen of
1 cm (½ inch) or smaller mesh.
• Use fire-resistive building materials.
• Enclose the underside of balconies and above-ground decks with fire-resistive materials. (A building permit may be required; check with the Building Department.)
• Install only dual-pane or triple-pane windows.
• Remove all combustible vegetation at least 10 metres (30 feet) from all structures.
• Plant low-growing, fire-resistant plants, ground covers, perennials and annuals.
• Space native trees and shrubs at least three metres (10 feet) apart.
• Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas to a minimum of three metres (10 feet) apart.
• Prune tree branches to 2.5 metres (8 feet) above ground, remove low brush and dry plant litter.
• Stack woodpiles at least 10 metres (30 feet) away from all structures.
• Locate propane tanks at least 10 metres (30 feet) away from all structures.
• Provide three metres (10 feet) of clearance around propane tanks.
• Identify at least two exit routes from your neighbourhood.
• Use large house numbers that are easily visible from the road.