Oak Bay firefighters kept busy with beach fires

Nine beach fires in nine days, says Oak Bay Fire Chief David Cockle

Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle checks out remains of a 2015 fire along Dallas Road. (Oak Bay News file photo)

The Oak Bay Fire Department over the last week, dealing with numerous beach fires in different areas of the community.

“We’ve had one a day for the last nine days,” said Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle, adding the nice weather attracts people to the beach both in the day and evenings, though evenings is when fires often take place.

He warned that even if the fire is put out on the surface, it can still continue burning underneath the sand. So far in the last few weeks, they’ve dealt with at least one beach fire every weekend.

“Weather’s good, and everybody’s going down to the beach doing their thing, but we just want to reiterate that beach fires are not allowed in Oak Bay or any of the municipalities in Victoria,” Cockle said. “With the risk that it is now, if we get some wind up and it blows it on shore, it could be significantly dangerous.”

Given the lack of rain and continued westerly winds sucking the moisture out, all South Island municipalities remain on guard with an extreme fire hazard rating.

“In Oak Bay, all of our parks, all of the grass is right down to yellow now, and our parks are extremely volatile.”

Last week, a grass fire began in Anderson Hill Park, but was fortunately contained by residents and Oak Bay fire crews before it had a chance to expand.

Cockle said August will help as the dew point starts coming back (as days get shorter again and nights grow longer) which will help as far as bringing moisture back in the parks. Until that point though, he expects people to be responsible for their actions.

“The biggest message from us is that all residents and visitors to be very diligent when they’re in the parks, understanding that the risk is very high there,” he said, adding there is no smoking in the parks, and signs have been posted up to remind people as such.

With the next week looking even hotter and drier, Oak Bay Fire crews plan to patrol beaches in the evenings. While Cockle said the idea is to educate against beach fires, repeat offenders can face potential fines under the local bylaw.

To report a potential fire risk, please call Oak Bay fire at 250-592-9121.

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