Officials across Sooke Region prepare for wildfire season

Firefighters anticipating a busy wildfire season

Dry conditions in early spring have local fire chiefs on edge.

The big threat is wildfires and firefighters across the region are preparing for what could be a bad year.

“I was happy to see rain today,” said Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount, pointing out the probability of wildfires increased last month due to weather and the lack of rainfall.

Crews and officials across B.C. are in preparation mode ahead of the summer, following the two most destructive wildfire seasons recorded in B.C.’s history.

While local fire departments in the region practice for action, several fires have already sparked across the province, from Squamish and Vancouver Island to the Interior and northern B.C.

A wildfire started two weeks ago in Saseenos when an open fire got out of control. Sooke firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.

The wildfire provided a cautionary tale for Mount.

“It just takes a gust of wind and things can get out of hand pretty quickly,” he said.

In Sooke and Otter Point, wildfire prep is top of mind.

Both fire departments are providing advanced training for career and volunteer firefighters.

Otter Point is dedicating an entire month to specialized wildfire training, said Fire Chief John McCrae.

“We take it very seriously,” he said.

The Sooke Region is unique in typography with some areas having foliage comparable to southern California, like Harbourview, Connie, Nagle and Gillespie roads, and then there are other areas like Otter Point which have a more temperate rain forest.

RELATED: ‘Human activity’ likely cause of fire on Mount Quimper

RELATED: Wildfire increases in size to 100 hectares overnight

Two years ago, a wildfire on the south face of Mount Quimper taxed the resources of Sooke Fire Rescue. The slow-moving fire was small by wildfire standards but the terrain caused firefighters difficulty. Three helicopters and air water tanker were used to help suppress the blaze.

Last summer, about 100 hectares burned at Tugwell Creek, west of Sooke. More than 70 firefighters fought the blaze, along with five helicopters, six water tenders, and other heavy equipment.

Both fires were believed to be human-caused.

McCrae and Mount believe community education is the key to reducing the risk of wildfires.

But it’s a tale of two cities on awareness.

In Sooke, the fire department has seen a decrease in nuisance fires over the last two years, while Otter Point still has work to do, McCrae said.

“I feel like people may be complacent here because we’ve had no big fires in the region, unlike in the Interior,” he said. “We have to be aware of hazards.”

But massive wildfires, evacuation orders and smoky skies are becoming regular facets of summer and will continue to become more severe, a B.C. fire ecologist predicts.

Robert Gray, a Chilliwack-based fire ecologist with more than 30 years experience in fire science, believes conditions such as those seen in the last two years will become increasingly common – unless new forest management practices are adopted.

Gray suggests conducting prescribed burns in spring and fall to reduce the amount of fuel available for wildfires in the summer.

“Unfortunately that means putting smoke into the sky,” he added.

He also advocates other efforts to reduce the amount of dead wood, needs and other fuel sources on the forest floor.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Castaway Wanderers men, women advance to B.C. semifinals

Castaway Wanderers men trounce UVic 59-29 in playoffs

Unattended cooking causes fire in Songhees Nation home

Two people treated for injuries, one transported to hospital Monday evening

Busy Tuesday for BC Ferries passengers

First sailings to and from Swartz Bay sold out

Rain with a high of 16 C for Tuesday

Plus your weekly forecast

Canada Women’s Rugby 7s Team land at home after series triumph

Next stop at Langford offers Olympic qualification

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

United Way opens grants to help charities tackle social issues

Charities north of the Malahat can apply for grants $2,000 to $20,000

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Man’s body found in popular Cowichan Valley hiking area

Police say death not suspicious after discovery in Stoney Hill area overlooking Saltspring Island

Most Read