West Shore Neighbourhood News

Metchosin beach fires at risk of being banned

Capt. Eric Meredith at the site of an unattended beach fire on Taylor Beach. The Metchosin beach is one of the few places beach fires are still allowed. If fires are too large and continue to be left unattended, they may be banned warns the Metchosin Fire Department.  - Charla Huber/News staff
Capt. Eric Meredith at the site of an unattended beach fire on Taylor Beach. The Metchosin beach is one of the few places beach fires are still allowed. If fires are too large and continue to be left unattended, they may be banned warns the Metchosin Fire Department.
— image credit: Charla Huber/News staff

Sitting on the rocks enjoying the breeze off the ocean in front of a crackling fire, is a dwindling way to enjoy the summer months. “I am pretty sure we are the only municipality that still allows beach fires in (Greater Victoria),” said Stephanie Dunlop, fire chief for Metchosin, who enjoys having beach fires herself. “I like seeing two lovebirds having a little fire or a family with kids roasting marshmallows. That’s why we allow the fires.” “There is nothing like a having a nice beach fire,” added Capt. Eric Meredith Taylor Beach is a popular beach fire spot in the rural district, but the Metchosin Fire Department may put a halt to the longtime summer tradition. Firefighters are spending too much time cleaning up and extinguishing unattended beach fires as large as nearly four metres in diameter with multiple logs burning. “The maximum size allows for the fires is two feet by two feet by two feet,” said Dunlop. Anyone having a beach fire is encouraged to burn wood from home and refrain from using driftwood logs that can continue burning even after they appear to be out. Large flames and ocean winds can be a potentially dangerous combination. “Who ever is having these big fires is going to ruin it for all the other people,” said Meredith. “As long as the fires are small they are not a problem.” Anyone having a fire is required to have at least a one-gallon bucket full of water nearby and all fires need to be fully extinguished. The fire department has received complaints of children and dogs getting burned by smouldering debris in the morning. “You need to douse,” Dunlop said, adding a fire is out when it is “cool to the touch.” Beach fires are allowed on municipal beaches in Metchosin such as Taylor Beach, but Capital Regional Parks such as Witty or Albert Head lagoons do not allow the fires. Metchosin Fire Department, West Shore RCMP and Capital Regional District actively patrol all beaches.

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