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Mowing helped save Victoria Garry oak meadow from ravages of fire

City and Victoria Fire Department remind residents of continued dry conditions
Summit Park is among those City of Victoria staff mow each summer to reduce fodder for fire. Victoria Fire Department quickly doused a fire there Aug. 9. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The minor bouts of rain recently were not enough to lower the risk of fire and caution remains key while enjoying Victoria parks and natural spaces, warns local firefighters.

“There’s still a risk of fire in the area with it still being quite dry,” said Victoria Deputy Fire Chief Chris Royle.

With a return to warm weather, the little moisture quickly dissipates, and the Victoria Fire Department is reminding residents to discard smoking materials properly, and not leave glass or metal laying about.

Those are likely the culprits in a fire Aug. 9 among the Garry oaks of Summit Park. That fire highlights the ways the city and fire department work together in prevention measures.

Victoria’s parks department cuts the long grass in parks and natural areas every year. This year, that began mid-July. The practise reduces the amount of dry vegetation – fire fuel.

No injuries were reported at Summit, and the fire was contained to a relatively small area, in large part because the city had already cut the long dry grass.

Natural areas, which contain important native plants and provide valuable wildlife habitat, are not mown until plants have gone to seed which happened earlier this year due to minimal rain and high temperatures, according to a city spokesperson.

READ ALSO: Cooler conditions offer fractional relief to crews battling nearly 300 B.C. wildfires

The city also added to its warning signs – still posted in parks and at beaches – and there is similar messaging on more than a dozen large city vehicles.

Firefighters, bylaw officers, and parks staff are proactively visiting parks to monitor risks and remind people that fires and smoking are prohibited in parks, including beaches.

It’s also good to remind residents that open burning is never allowed in Victoria, any time of the year, Royle said, adding that practising similar safety at home is also important.

Never leave a barbecue unattended, avoid parking vehicles on dry grass or bark mulch, and avoid driving through long grass.

And as always, never throw a lit cigarette out the window of a vehicle, he added.

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Summit Park is among those City of Victoria staff mow each summer to reduce fodder for fire. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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