Fire officials call for community preparedness as temperatures rise on Vancouver Island
VICTORIA -- Earlier this week, a fire on Mill Hill, which boarders the municipalities of View Royal and Langford, came dangerously close to nearby homes and caused an evacuation of Thetis Lake Park.
With conditions on the South Island getting tinder dry, and with another warm weekend ahead, fire officials are sounding the alarm and asking for everyone to be fire-smart for the protection of the community.
“We’re getting to that point right now where it’s going to turn scary,” said Assistant Fire Chief Rob Marshall of the View Royal Fire Department.
“I think the Mill Hill fire was a good wake-up call for us. It was a really good reminder that we need to start getting these fire-safe practices in hand,” he said.
The Mill Hill fire grew to 1.9-hectors in size and came within 200 metres of the nearest home, after tearing through dry brush. It’s believed to have been caused by humans.
“With our initial response to that fire, the direction we thought it was going was towards one particular house,” said Marshall.
“We setup there to defend the house and at one point we began to get ash raining down on us.”
It’s those burning hot embers that fall from the sky that could cause your house to go up in flames.
That’s where fire-smart zones come into play, say firefighters.
“What a fire-smart zone would be is a house that is adjacent to a large forested area,” said Marshall.
Properties in this area should have measures in place to prevent fires from reaching them quickly.
“Any kind of building construction or building materials you use, you want them to be non-combustible,” said Marshall.
That includes hardy planking, concrete siding, asphalt shingles and if you have a deck, use a plastic composite wood, rather than wood.
For those who have a green thumb, consider planting non-combustible vegetation around your yard as well.
“It’s the embers landing into the bark mulch that you just put into the front garden along your house (that are dangerous),” said Marshall. “Those embers are going to land in there and that’s going to start your house on fire.”
Many of these warnings from the View Royal Fire Department are especially relevant in older developments.
“We’re fortunate in our municipality, as well as Langford and Colwood,” said Marshall. “We have fire smart principles for modern developments that have been introduced.”
“For the older developments, we didn’t have those,” he warned.
That’s why Marshall says the best defence for keeping your family and property safe is to remove anything that could be fuel for a fire away from your home.