One neighbour’s garden hose and another’s jogging regime helped keep residents around Playfair Park safe from a sudden grass fire Thursday (July 28).
Thomas Russell, who lives on Duke Street just south of Playfair Park, said one of his neighbours was coming back from his usual morning run when he spotted smoke and flame on his and Russell’s side of the park around 11 a.m. The neighbour quickly alerted Russell, whose hose they used to put out the fire from the safe elevation of a rocky incline.
With the help of several other residents, the two neighbours controlled the fire by the time Saanich Fire Department arrived on scene a short time later. Russell advised the firefighters, who also ended up using his hose possibly due to a lack of a nearby fire hydrant, to approach the fire northwestward from Judge Place. This proved easier for the crew than accessing the fire via Russell’s yard and led to them swiftly finish up the homeowners’ job.
Saanich fire Capt. Tim Hanley said a four-person crew responded to the incident, which he described as a grass fire and used Russell’s hose because it was already at the site. No cause of the fire was identified, but Hanley said certain areas within the park are becoming quite dry and highly combustible due to the hot summer conditions.
He encouraged residents and other park users to exercise caution around such areas, especially when smoking.
Not long after firefighters left, Russell noticed more smoke coming from under a thin layer of moss and shrubbery and rushed out with a bucket of water to douse the remnants of the fire. He closely monitored it for a time afterward but didn’t feel a need to recall the fire crew.
Part of what puts Playfair Park at risk is the fact it has no established pathway, from which visitors might notice such a fire, he said. He has experienced several similar close calls with fires in past, often due to careless smoking, and numerous instances where he found evidence of extinguished fires. He worries, with winds historically blowing fires in the direction of his house.
Russell is glad that Saanich’s parks plan calls for replacement washroom facilities and possibly a fire hydrant for Playfair Park. For now, he and his neighbours plan to continue to keep their eyes peeled for smoke.
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