UPDATE Fire crews battle large off-road fire

Langford blaze cost more than $40,000 to extinguish, police seek culprits

With tax dollars wasted, many a firefighter’s long weekend ruined and the risk to local residents very real, Langford Fire Rescue and West Shore RCMP are hoping to find those responsible for a forest fire that broke out last Sunday.

The fire started at about 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 in a wooded area on private property off of Latoria and Happy Valley roads, near Walfred Road. At its peak the fire was about one acre in size. It took most of the night and air support to put out the fire.

“(The fire) had the real potential for getting out of control,” said chief Bob Beckett, of Langford Fire Rescue. “It’s very rough, hilly terrain and with the right conditions and the right winds that could have gone up Walfred.”

Evidence of a camp was found at the site, including remnants of a fire and a shelter. Beckett said it looked like the earmarks of a party, rather than a camp made by homeless people.

The cost for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to bring in a helicopter and a flying tanker to fight the blaze amounted to over $40,000, Beckett said.

On top of that, 25 volunteer and professional firefighters from all three stations of Langford Fire Rescue attended, along with the Metchosin Volunteer Fire Department. Together they fought the fire through the  night until 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, and then Langford and Metchosin firefighters returned to continue the efforts most of the day Monday.

Beckett said throughout the week firefighters continued to return to the site to keep an eye on it and water down any hot spots still creating any risk. For most of the firefighters it was not the ideal way to be spending the long weekend, Beckett said.

“I think it is very, very irresponsible,” Beckett said. “It’s not like the media hasn’t made everyone aware of the high risk, in fact extreme risk, we’re into right now.”

 

RCMP hope to find those responsible, primarily to recover costs associated with fighting the fire. Anyone with information should call West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).