Controlled demonstration shows how seemingly extinguished cigarette butts can burn bark mulch commonly used in pots and gardens.

Fuelled bark can pack a bite

Careless smokers have started many fires in Langford

By Angela Cowan/News Staff

Since May, the only burning allowed in Langford has been campfires, but that hasn’t stopped sparks from flying all over town and keeping the fire department busy.

“We’ve had five bush fires so far (this summer), or more, and 23 bark mulch fires,” said Deputy Fire Chief Kerry Zado.

Bark mulch fires commonly occur in garden areas and can flare up in both residential or commercial spots. A recent fire at Brown’s Social House took hold on a strip of garden between the pub and the roadway.

Medians filled with rain-starved flowers and tinder-dry bark mulch on the highways also pose a danger.

“A lot of (these fires) are on the Bear Mountain parkway,” said Zado, “and that’s just mainly careless smoking.”

Reiterating cigarette butt safety, he also emphasized that all open and yard burning is completely prohibited now and for the rest of the summer season.

Just two weeks ago firefighters responded to a bush fire that was threatening a handful of homes. They called in the forestry department for assistance.

A couple hours of rain isn’t enough to lower the fire risk, Zado said, and errant sparks can quickly turn disastrous.

Neighbouring municipality View Royal isn’t taking any chances. They’ve had a 100-per-cent ban on all burning for 12 years.

As summer continues to heat up, a full fire ban is likely to take effect covering the South Island and residents are reminded to be vigilant about fire safety.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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