EDITORIAL: Be fire smart to stay fire safe

Take precautions when outdoors, it can save many people a lot of grief

Despite the recent cooling pattern, the dearth of summer rain and unseasonably high temperatures have conspired to create the perfect storm, not only for forest fires, but the scary possibility of a devastating interface fire.

A recent fire near Nanaimo airport should sound alarm bells and reinforce the importance of taking every possible precaution, whether you’re in the woods or walking down the street.

Here on the West Shore, urban growth sprawls right up against forests in many areas, increasing the risk posed by the current powder-keg dry conditions.

A complete ban on burning and campfires for B.C. the first week of July came unusually early, and underlines the need to be extra vigilant when camping or hiking in the natural beauty that is an integral part of our Vancouver Island lifestyle. All it takes is one careless camper or smoker to cause catastrophic damage.

Smokers especially need to be diligent. Refrain from the stupidity of discarding butts out of your vehicle and bring along a bottle of water to fully extinguish cigarettes when out for a stroll. Trails, sidewalks and plantings around buildings, frequently surrounded by wood chips or patches of grass, are especially at risk. Even a small fragment of glass, a clear bottle or glass, or a piece of shiny metal can be enough to magnify the sun and spark a fire.

Parents, take a couple of minutes to remind your curious kids that it’s never a good idea to play with matches or lighters, no matter how tempting. Local incidents so far have been restricted to relatively small grass fires, fortunately dealt with before they had a chance to spread. While that may indicate the public is plugging into the heightened risks, the fact three halls in Langford now respond to grass fire calls normally dealt with by one underscores the heightened state of danger.

A sudden gust of wind or an extra few minutes lost in response time is all it takes for a little fire to graduate to a full-blown blaze.

Common-sense steps for making a significant difference and helping protect our precious homes, properties and scenic surroundings can be found at firesmartcanada.ca.

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