Drying conditions prompt warning from Sooke Fire Rescue

The warning stems from a fire season that is expected to be more intense than usual.

  • Wed Apr 20th, 2016 5:00am
  • News

As the dry summer weather quickly approaches, so does the high-risk fire season, warn fire and rescue officials.

The warning stems from a fire season that is expected to be more intense than usual.

Sooke Fire and Rescue Chief Steven Sorensen said from now through August, the weather will turn “significantly warmer and drier” than the seasonal average.

“We already have the potential for a fire to get away from people, such as a backyard fire creeping through the underbrush,” he said.

There are no “high risk” fire spots in Sooke, though Sorensen pointed out the fire department’s main concern are areas where people are few and few between.

This is because fires in rural areas tend to get bigger much faster, as there is no one around to notice right away.

“If your neighbour has a fire in their yard, somebody calls us pretty quickly and we’re able to get there, but if we have something up Harbourview Road or up a trail, then it gets more difficult,” Sorensen said.

Locating a fire in a rural area can prove just as challenging, as not all roads may lead to Rome.

“We can see the smoke, but sometimes we spend half an hour trying to figure out what road to take to get to it,” Sorensen said.

View Royal had its first bark mulch fire last week, making it the first one of the season. Sorensen said bark mulch, tossed cigarettes and landscaping are all considered a risk, just as they were the source of several calls in Sooke last summer.

In 2015, nine bark mulch fires were related to careless discarding of cigarettes and two brush fires, while Sorensen confirmed discarded smoking material as the cause of the Grant Manor apartment fire last July. The fire resulted in more than $1 million in damage and displaced 17 residents who are still out of their homes almost a year later.

Right now, no fire restrictions are in effect, though Sorensen encouraged Sooke residents to keep vigilant in the short and long interim.

“If you have a campfire, make sure it’s completely out, put water on it, make sure it’s not deep-seeded somewhere,” he said. “If you smoke, put your cigarette out in your ashtray, if your car doesn’t have one, get a soup can or something.”

Open burning is not allowed in Sooke from June 1 until the end of September. Only campfires are allowed, unless there is a campfire ban in effect due to extremely dry weather.