Fire crews were called to the scene of a brush fire near Langford on April 21. (Twitter/Langford Fire Rescue)

Fire departments urge West Shore residents to be fire smart as wildfire season begins

Residents encouraged to clear area around home of combustible debris

With wildfire season already beginning, a near-record dry season and the COVID-19 pandemic occupying the time of first responders, local fire departments are encouraging residents to be fire smart.

Using guidelines from the country’s FireSmart program, Langford Fire Rescue, Colwood Fire Rescue and View Royal Fire Rescue have partnered together to educate community members about things they can do to protect their homes and surrounding areas from wildfire.

Last year, Langford alone saw roughly 100 fires in the area according to Langford Fire Rescue. Fire crews attended an “out of control” brush fire, caused by a worksite incident, as recently as April 21.

Capt. Simon Chadwick, who works in fire prevention with Langford Fire Rescue, said a province-wide event was to be held at the beginning of May to help educate people about what can be done to restrict the spread of wildfire. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are looking at postponing the event to June.

In the meantime, Chadwick says this is the perfect time for residents to start protecting their homes from wildfire as people continue to isolate.

“We encourage residents of Langford, especially in high-risk areas like woodland and treed areas, to clean up around their home,” Chadwick said.

Residents are being asked to clear gutters and roofs of debris like leaves and nettle and also clear about a 10-metre distance around the home if possible.

Combustible items like foliage, debris, yard waste and boxes should be moved away from homes as well.

“A spark from a wildfire can travel up to one kilometre, if not more,” Chadwick said. “Usually, areas where debris collects is where the embers will collect.”

Chadwick said Langford Fire Rescue is looking at options to open a safe, physically distant program for residents to dispose of some yard waste in order to clear it away from their homes.

Those who smoke are also asked to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly and to avoid smoking on trails or in areas near brush. To assist residents in doing so, Langford Fire Rescue is giving away free pocket ashtrays.

Colwood has temporarily expanded its service to accept yard waste every Saturday beginning on April 25 and through the month of May. Capt. Scott Abrahamson, who also works in fire prevention with Colwood Fire Rescue, said residents are encouraged to dispose of their yard waste like wood, branches and leaves at the Colwood Branch Drop Off.

“We just don’t want to see a collection of yard debris close to the house,” Abrahamson said. “Any dry vegetation can become quite combustible.”

He said Colwood crews also responded to one small brush fire during the week of April 20. Abrahamson reminds residents that open burning is not permitted in Colwood and that fire department resources can be tied up if they have to respond to safety infractions.

If a wildfire is spotted, Chadwick says to not tackle it yourself and call 911 immediately. He also said it’s important to note that rainfall does not mean the area is safe from wildfires.

“Just because it rains for a few hours, that doesn’t mean everything’s safe,” Chadwick said. “A lot of these wildfires start deep underground and can sit there before they show.”

Abrahamson also noted that regardless of wildfire season, the No. 1 safety tip for residents is to have working smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher available.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca

Colwood Fire RescueLangford Fire RescueWildfire season

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
UPDATED: Victoria police arrest high-risk parolee with history of bank robbery

Citizen alerts cops after spotting parolee on Pandora Avenue

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Saanich implements single-lane traffic stretch on Prospect Lake Road along Clavert Park. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Saanich makes one-way traffic permanent on segment of Prospect Lake Road

Prospect Lake Road to close near Calvert Park Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for construction

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read