Colwood Fire Rescue has been called to four fires and 10 burning complaints within the last month. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Local department sees spike in fires in recent months

Colwood Fire Rescue responded to four fires, 10 complaints

Colwood Fire Rescue is reminding residents that it’s illegal to have beach or campfires anywhere in the municipality, after a spike overall in fires in recent months.

According to assistant chief Greg Chow, the department has been called to four fires and 10 burning complaints within the last month.

“We have seen a spike over the last month in regards to fires throughout Colwood,” Chow said. “If it’s found to be in contravention to our bylaw, then we have them extinguish it.”

The fire rating in Colwood was recently updated to extreme due to dry conditions, high temperatures and no rain. As a result, all burning such as open yard fires and campfires, are prohibited.

Beach fires are also prohibited at all times, however, propane barbecues are still permitted.

READ MORE: B.C. declare state of emergency as wildfires rage

Fires have been at the top of many residents’ minds in recent weeks as the dry spell continues and haze from wildfires has affected air quality in Greater Victoria.

The province declared a state of emergency on Aug. 15 as more than 560 wildfires burned throughout B.C., sparking dozens of evacuation orders and affecting thousands of people.

Locally, Judith Allan has had her share of experiences with fires. The Colwood resident was walking along Esquimalt Lagoon Saturday evening between 8:30 and 9 p.m., when she said she came across four separate groups burning wood fires.

RELATED: West Shore firefighters answer call to battle fires in north-central B.C.

“[I was] alarmed. I think that people think that because they’re right by the ocean that they’re not doing something dangerous. The problem is one spark can jump to the logs and it can jump over the road. The hill is just so dry you could have a serious fire in no time,” said Allan, adding two of the four groups put out the fires when she informed them it was illegal.

“People love to have bonfires, but they just don’t realize how dangerous it can be at this time of year with the drought that we’re experiencing right now.”

Despite the increase in fires, Chow believes more people are becoming aware of the heightened risk, noting all complaints are investigated by a duty officer.

“We just want people to be extra careful out there,” he said.

Unauthorized outdoor fires are subject to a $200 fine. To report an illegal fire that is not an emergency, call the dispatch centre at 250-475-6111.

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