‘Have to be ready for it’: Island residents urged to ‘fire smart’ homes ahead of wildfire season


Living on nature’s edge in Lake Cowichan brings wildlife and mountain scenery right to people’s doorsteps. But when Win McClure saw firefighting helicopters and planes overhead fighting the area’s forest fires in recent summers, she quickly realized how vulnerable her home’s yard was.

“We could see them coming and going and we just decided to do something, back here anyway, and so this is what we decided to do and it’s working,” McClure told CHEK News on Wednesday, outside of her Lake Cowichan home.

She and her partner removed all the drought-damaged lawn and brush in the yard and replaced it with gravel and planters with drought resistant succulents, to fire smart her property.

“I mean, look at what happened in the Interior. We just have to be ready for it,” said McClure.

Wildfires are a top concern for Lake Cowichan Fire Chief Doug Knott.

“We’re at less than 50 per cent of snowpack this year for the Island, so that’s going to really affect us if we don’t get some good rains,” said Knott.

Despite a still low fire threat, Lake Cowichan Fire crews have already responded to several small fires.

“We’ve had some small, but basically started fires where they shouldn’t have been,” said Knott.

So Knott urges Vancouver Islanders to take a look around their homes, remove any potential fuels from within three feet of their houses, and clean gutters for an effective way of reducing the threat of wildfire to them.

“It’s so easy to start on the outside of your home, or in the soffits, under decks, stuff like that, it just takes right off because it gets into raw lumber. That’s where a large number of the homes in these fires that have happened in zones, is embers coming in and landing on the area outside your house,” said Knott.

So McClure is enjoying her downsized yard with a whole new sense of calm these days, after a few changes that have made her home much safer from wildfire.

Skye Ryan

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