Don’t play with fire.
Despite widespread fire bans during one of the most arid summers Vancouver Island has experienced in years, firefighters are seeing evidence of illegal campfire use within Little Qualicum River Regional Park and the adjacent private lands in the Meadowood area.
“It’s not just one event, we’ve seen three obvious recent fire pits,” Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD) deputy fire chief Greg Howard told The NEWS Friday. “It looks like it’s happening on a regular basis.”
On Thursday, Aug. 20, DVFD posted on their Facebook page: “We received a call from a concerned citizen who witnessed several teenage children with a quad intentionally starting a fire in the Glory Hole area off the Ozero’s access road.”
“It should go without saying that a fire that got out of control in this area has the potential to cause significant property loss in both timber and the houses on Corcan, Galvin and Koskimo.”
Campfires and smoking are currently banned in all Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) parks according to a news release.
The mid and south-Island regions are also under a provincial fire ban including campfires and non CSA-approved portable stoves.
“We have an unprecedented fire risk this year,” said Howard. “We need to be very vigilant in stopping human caused fires. Human caused fires are almost the exclusive reason for starting fires, we have very few that are lightening-caused.”
Howard stressed “it only takes one person to start a fire” from an illegal campfire or cigarette butt.
He said a wildfire in the Meadowood/Little Qualicum area is a serious risk during this dry summer, and could quickly spread into the community.
“We live in a beautiful spot and people are out in the backwoods and people need to be conscious of how high the hazard rating is right now,” he said.
In an effort to enhance safety, the DVFD is asking anyone who witnesses a person starting a fire contrary to fire bans to immediately report it with as much information as possible.
Fines for fire violations are payable under provincial law and RDN bylaws. Provincial law also allows for the recovery of firefighting costs and damages. People found to be intentionally starting fires during times of fire bans can face fines in excess of $10,000.
To report a wildfire call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks, or 911.