North Cowichan residents were surprised by the sudden arrival of 14 Vancouver Island fire departments on Carmel Drive for a wildfire training exercise Sunday.
The fire crews had come together to train for wildfires on their doorsteps as the BC Wildfire Service is predicting a dry spring and potentially busy summer ahead.
“This year is showing that the weather is much drier than it has been over the past few years,” said Ron French, BC Wildfire Fire Service Officer.
Victoria has only received about 40 per cent of its normal rainfall for the month of May at around 15.2 millimetres, while Nanaimo has only seen 38 per cent with 20.9 millimetres.
The joint BC Wildfire Service and Fire Commissioner’s course was staged in a real neighbourhood, to improve B.C.’s response to wildfires.
“North Cowichan is prime for an incident like this and thankfully we have dedicated volunteer crews that are quick on the response and this type of raining adds to that,” said Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan’s Manager of Fire and Bylaw Services.
According to officials, developments are increasingly moving into wildland areas and increasing the fire risk to homes. Sunday’s training was a dry run of what could happen on an actual wildland-urban interface fire in a community.
“As development takes place into what we call the hinterland or into the wildland environment then there’s more and more chance and probability that we’re going to have these circumstances where a wildfire is bearing down on a community,” said Deputy Fire Commissioner for British Columbia, Jay Brownlee.
The training could be put into use at any minute, making training like that in North Cowichan critical for what might come if the dry stretch continues.