Self-igniting vegetation possible cause of East Sooke’s wildfire

Fire estimated at three-hectares in size

  • Aug. 9, 2019 10:30 a.m.

A wildfire that forced a handful of East Sooke residents out of their homes Thursday was possibly caused by self-ignited mosses and grasses, say fire officials.

The fire started at about 3 p.m. and blazed through three hectares of land at Rice Passage off Cain’s Way before doused by firefighters from East Sooke, Sooke and Metchosin.

Firefighters arrived with the fire lipping backyards and wooden decks. No injuries were reported.

Officials recommended residents living closest to the fire leave their homes, but no official evacuation order was given.

The fire likely started near a path, said East Sooke Fire Chief Roger Beck, but no obvious cause was identified.

“It could just be spontaneous combustion from mosses and grasses,” he said. “We did have rain the other day and wet grass, it can spontaneously ignite.”

Beck said when mosses and grasses get a little wet it gives anaerobic bacteria “what they need to get going and it lights fires.”

Resident Doug Pepino said he was home when fire trucks arrived.

“At first when you looked through the trees you couldn’t see the city,” Pepino said.

“It was just dense, white smoke.”

He said first responders told him and his wife to stand by, and be prepared to evacuate.

“It was a little tense, but as the time went on and folks were really working it, you could see them starting to relax a little bit,” he said.

To report a wildfire, please telephone 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 from a cellphone.

READ MORE: East Sooke brush fire ‘was just dense, white smoke,’ says resident



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