Storm DeWitt at the site of the most recent fire near her propoerty. (Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke resident lives in fear of fires

Several fires reported metres from property on Townsend Road in the last year

A tenant of a three-bedroom home on Townsend Road in Sooke says a series of small fires has her living in fear.

“It is a major concern not only for me, my family and my animals, but also for our community as well. I’m willing to do anything to protect us in the most positive way,” said Storm DeWitt.

Over the past year, Sooke Fire Rescue has responded to four fires within metres of DeWitt’s house at 2069 Townsend Rd. The most recent was July 19 when firefighters put a campfire-sized blaze that ignited on a fence between DeWitt’s property and Shoppers Drug Mart.

DeWitt was at work at the time when she saw smoke plumes rising above her property.

Luckily by the time she arrived home, a Shoppers Drug Mart employee was putting out the blaze and the fire department was en route.

DeWitt’s property is located next to a vacant lot which attracts transients, squatters and others. The property is used as a trail way between Townsend Road and Evergreen Centre.

Of the four fires, three have occurred over the last four weeks, said Fire Chief Kenn Mount.

“We have concern that we’re going there regularly,” he said. “We haven’t had any of these minor fire turn into anything major, but as we go into extreme [fire rating], the minor fires could be something greater to deal with.”

Several attempts by Sooke fire officials to contact the vacant property owner have been unsuccessful. The district is now in the process of writing a letter in hopes of rectifying the problem.

“There are multiple issues with this property. There needs to be some kind of clean up. There’s debris there, remnants of past fires there and people are passing by on a path,” Mount said, pointing out the property is for sale.

For DeWitt, it’s about keeping her community and family, including her two dogs, two cats and a bird, safe.

She’s now set up a number of buckets on the vacant property filled with water and sand, so if someone comes across a fire they can douse it quickly. On her own property, she has more buckets and hoses directed at the fence line.

But there’s always a feeling something bad will happen. DeWitt lives next door to an elderly couple and across the street from two apartment buildings.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “Every time I go to work, every time I go to bed, I worry.

“It can’t just be a careless person flicking a butt. I just want to hope it’s some accidental coincidence.”

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