Community

Rain won't be enough to wash out fire risk

A Metchosin firefighter hoses down a grass fire in the district in June.   - Courtesy Metchosin Fire Department/Facebook
A Metchosin firefighter hoses down a grass fire in the district in June.
— image credit: Courtesy Metchosin Fire Department/Facebook

By Angela Cowan/News staff

Just because it rains, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to burn, said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop.

Open burning has been closed since May in the district, but the Metchosin Fire Department has already dealt with four sizeable brush fires this summer, as well as a number of beach fire and outdoor burning complications.

“The biggest trouble is when it rains a little bit, and people think it’s okay to burn,” she said.

“People need to realize rain doesn’t make it safe to burn again. Not the amount we have, and then the winds dry it out very quickly too.”

Beach fires are still permitted, provided they’re no bigger than two feet around and out by midnight. No beach fires are allowed on any CRD beach at any time.

“Bring your own firewood, no bigger than you’d put in your fireplace. Bring a bucket, and make sure the fire is completely extinguished,” said Dunlop. Don’t burn the big logs on the beach, as the fire can keep burning for hours unseen, she said, and don’t burn pallets.

“All that does is leave nails for little kids to walk on in the morning.”

Next door in Colwood, all burning is prohibited now, including campfires, beach fires and construction waste fires, and there are no fires permitted at Esquimalt Lagoon, or in any city parks.

Insp. John Cassidy, assistant chief for the Colwood Fire Department, also cautioned that contained outdoor burning appliances, such as chimineyas, are not permitted when the fire rating is high or extreme.

“Enforcement is stepping up for the summer and we will find and charge people,” he said.

As the weather continues to heat up, even the few areas that allow campfires and beach fires are likely to dwindle.

Dunlop stressed that if people want to have a fire, they need to  call ahead and make sure they know the regulations.

The fire department is always happy to answer questions. Above all, she said, the important thing is to use your common sense when burning.

“It’s definitely hot and dry out there, so be careful.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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