Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett is reminding West Shore residents to stop throwing their cigarette butts out of car windows in hopes of avoiding a situation like this one.

West Shore at risk for forest fires

Emergency prep fundamental according to Langford fire chief

Under the right conditions, West Shore residents could find themselves in a similar situation as those fleeing the fire that has devastated Fort McMurray and surrounding areas, warns Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett.

Back in 1995 and ‘96 when the City of Langford started creating an emergency preparedness plan, wildland-urban interface fires were deemed the number one risk to the community.

“That still applies and given the climate change, I think the risk is even greater,” he said.

Wildland-urban interface refers to the transition zone between unoccupied land and human development, which is at greater risk of devastation from wildfires. It’s a topic Langford has been addressing over the past few years by consulting with forest fire experts and developers.

“We get closer and closer to the fuels that are there,” Beckett said. Comparing fuels – flammable material – in our region with the Interior, for example, he determined them to be quite different. “We actually probably have more. If something gets going, it could be more difficult to put out.”

With many dry, hot days under our belt this spring and a long hot summer in the forecast, Beckett is urging West Shore residents to be more cautious than ever.

While the number of people that continue to indiscriminately toss lit cigarette butts out never ceases to amaze him, the chief said many people are starting to get the message. As forest fires gain more media attention, he said, “the awareness certainly does hit home.”

It’s an awareness local departments are trying to spark, a little earlier than usual, especially with local fire ratings already sitting at high. “I think it reflects the increased risks,” Beckett added. “Last year we had a significant period where each day, week after week, we had extreme risk.”

That risk is starting early this year. Langford Fire Rescue responded to five bark mulch fires over the weekend – a sixth was put out Monday morning’s fire. All of the blazes were caused by discarded cigarettes.

“I don’t know how many we’ve had in the last two weeks,” Beckett said. “I guess folks are just assuming it’s not dry enough.”

But it certainly is and he is urging residents to be mindful of that. “Please, just don’t throw your cigarettes out the window.”

Cigarette butts aren’t the only cause of forest fires and there are a number of ways residents can help local fire departments make the community safer. Langford Fire Rescue is working with other fire departments and key emergency responders in the region to develop strategies for dealing with a catastrophic event and to educate the public, Beckett said.

He compared a home to a candle.

“Think of the wax as your home,” he said. The wick, is your neighbour’s home and the surrounding property. “The less amount of fuel leading up to the wick the better.”

He nodded to some of the pictures coming out of Fort McMurray that show a few homes still standing in the devastation. “Some of it’s luck, some of it is applying the fire smart philosophy and approach.” It all comes back to emergency preparedness. “There are some things that are fundamental. Be safe, be smart and have a plan.”

To learn more about what you can do to prevent fires go or contact your local fire department for a fire smart pamphlet.

Just Posted

RCMP the best option for West Shore policing, mayors say

West Shore municipalities funding more officers and civilians at local detachment

Souper Bowls cook up support for Victoria youth

Youth Empowerment Society fundraising event set for April 4 at Crystal Gardens

Victoria Royals look ahead to Game 3 in playoff series

Best of seven series tied 1-1 after weekend play

BC Ferries warns of short Tsawwassen inconvenience, sailing times not affected

Line painting scheduled overnight between Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27

Increasing cloudiness with a high of 12 C for today

A look ahead at this week’s forecast

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Kamloops chamber of commerce director let go after controversial Facebook posts

Facebook account had derogatory comments about Muslims, Justin Trudeau

B.C. RCMP officer cleared after Taser incident seriously injures woman

Woman with knives refused to comply with orders therefore officer used appropriate level of force

‘Bikinishe’ swimwear retailer prompts Better Business Bureau warning

Watchdog has gotten dozens of complaints about company, which has been using fake Vancouver address

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Most Read