Municipalities across Vancouver Island are hoping for rain as they wait to decide whether they will permit bonfires and fireworks on Halloween night.
“We are looking at suspending fireworks and the Halloween bonfires,” Sean Lillis, Saanich fire prevention officer, told CHEK News in an interview.
The entire Coastal Fire Centre remains at an extreme fire danger rating, highly unusual for mid-October.
“It’s unbelievably tinder dry. We haven’t seen anything like this since I’ve been a firefighter, and that’s 22 years,” Lillis said.
“Fireworks are burning projectiles and they are let off in a way where you cannot predict where they’re going to land, so there is the possibility they could land in an area where there’s fuel that’s receptive to a fire…that would be a very potentially dangerous thing to do,” said Julia Caranci, spokesperson with the Coastal Fire Centre.
But it’s not just fireworks, as some communities may also ban bonfires this year. In Oak Bay, where the Halloween bonfire has been an annual tradition and a gathering place for the community, it’s a difficult decision.
“When you come down here on Halloween night, it’s just the community experiencing something together, and it’s beautiful and it’s special,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch. “So the conversation right now is we’re watching the weather, it’s just everything is so dry right now, and that is a huge bonfire it sends sparks a long, long way.”
Sooke Fire has posted on social media that fireworks are “unlikely to be permitted this year,” and Metchosin Fire has also put out a statement saying there may be a “possible prohibition on fireworks and campfires”.
Coastal Fire Centre’s ban on fireworks is set to expire on Oct. 28, and many fire departments are waiting to make their decisions.
“It would take a significant rain event, what we would call a season-ending rain event, to help us out right now,” said Caranci.
Those who plan to set off fireworks, whether they have permission to or not, are being urged to reconsider.
“If it stays this dry, I think anything involving fire should be out of the question,” added Murdoch.