View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst says he’s heard the conversations surrounding closing Thetis Lake Park while the park is under an Extreme Fire Danger rating.
“We used to close Thetis Lake Park probably 20 years ago in the summer. We found that the fires we were having were more frequent and they were larger, so the fact that there are more people in the park is our detection system,” says Hurst.
“If we get a fire in the park, we get thirty 911 calls.”
Lindsay Ilnicki and Ashley Veuger live in the area and use the park frequently.
“I think if Thetis did shut down, I would understand completely,” says Ilnicki.
They agree that fire-proofing a park is impossible regardless of season, but one careless user can cause an emergency like we saw Monday, where trees on the side of Barker Road went up in flames, prompting a quick response from fire crews.
“We live here,” says Veuger. “But can we trust others to follow the same rules? Obviously not.”
The fire was deemed human caused. Brian Richmond lives just down the rural road where the fire broke out and regularly sees unsafe conduct.
“We see overnight camping going on out here, and we see violations of safe uses.”
As for a potential park closure, the CRD released a statement saying that appropriate action will be taken if and when it is necessary, in collaboration with partner agencies.
Hurst agrees that park safety is in the hands of the users.
“I can’t protect the park against stupidity.”