A discarded cigarette in a drive-through in Langford caused cedar hedges to ignite in what could have been a dangerous fire last summer. So far this year there have been at least two fires caused by improperly discarded cigarettes in Greater Victoria and with the driest March on record, firefighters are reminding people to stay vigilant and be mindful in their everyday life. (Photo courtesy of Langford Fire Rescue)

Dry March sparks fire concerns

How to stay mindful this upcoming fire season

After record snow fall in February and the second driest March on record, firefighters are reminding people to be extra cautious in their everyday life.

Black Press caught up with Langford Fire Rescue’s Assistant Chief Lance Caven to understand more about the current conditions and what to be mindful of for this upcoming summer.

“We’re anticipating that we could have a dryer and potentially busier summer when it comes to fires,” says Caven. However, hopefully we can let everyone know early on — they need to be as careful as possible.

READ ALSO: Saanich fire crews extinguish blaze at Gorge and Adelaide

Improperly disposed of cigarettes have already caused two fires this season and Caven stresses disposing of cigarettes butts in a safe way — either in a proper container that isn’t combustible or one that is filled with water or sand.

“Most of the fires that we attend to are because a series of unfortunate things have happened and one of the easiest ones — besides cigarettes — would be the use of candles,” he says.

Reminding people to keep candles in non-combustible containers so if they are knocked over or burn down all the way, they won’t impact anything that can catch on fire. Adding that power bars or extension cords are at risk too, saying not use these tools on a permanent basis.

READ ALSO: Woman admits to accidentally starting Dallas Road brush fire: Victoria Fire

“I think you hear on a regular basis that this fire, or that fire, was human caused and those fires are completely preventable and they shouldn’t be happening,” says Caven.

People out in the forest have to be especially careful says Caven, from high risk activities like having a campfire to shooting or riding ATVs, dry conditions can be lethal.

“If you’re parking your ATV that you’ve been riding for an hour, in tall dry grass — that hot muffler can ignite that grass and with the dry conditions and, potentially, if it’s a windy day — you may not have a chance to stomp that fire out or even get on top of it.”

Caven says people are always surprised when they realize just how quickly a wild fire can spread when the conditions are just right — or wrong, depending on how you look at it.

At this point in the season, firefighter training transitions into responding to more grass, wild and forest fires. Focusing on using different equipment such as portable water sources called bladder tanks and how to coordinate with other teams, Caven says another big focus is safety.

READ ALSO: Cigarette causes early morning deck fire in Victoria

“Making sure [our guys] have escape routes when they’re working in a condition with an active fire or if the conditions change, they have safe ways to get out,” he says.

Caven says that if you think you see a fire or even if you’ve put one out, make sure you call 911 and report the blaze.

For more information on how to protect your property from wildfire visit firesmartcanada.ca.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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