‘It’s an ominous sign’: Island fire crews prepare for wildfire season

'It's an ominous sign': Island fire crews prepare for wildfire season

It may only be April, but firefighters across the Island are already responding to numerous brush fires, which is a sign of how dry it’s getting out there.

Oyster River Fire was called out to one fire on York Road on April 13.

It’s believed to be human-caused and took an hour to put out.

“And I know Courtenay Fire Department has responded to three or four grass fires already this year, so it’s an ominous sign for what could be coming in the season ahead,” Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green told CHEK News Saturday.

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It’s one reason why numerous agencies, including Oyster River Fire, Courtenay Fire, BC Hydro and the BC Wildfire Service gathered for a training scenario that saw hydro and natural gas assets threatened by a wildfire in the York Road area of Oyster River.

“If you look around you can see quite easily this infrastructure might be affected, and especially for the substation there’s a lot of dangers that the firefighters aren’t normally exposed to,” Green added.

“And of course if we lost this infrastructure, to repair it would be a significant delay of power to this area,” said Kate McLean of the BC Wildfire Service.

Crews laid out hundreds of metres of hose line with sprinklers attached to wet down the area around the substation.

The BC Wildfire Service is also preparing for a busy summer ahead.

“So the snow pack is lower than normal, it’s about 50 per cent right now, and our indices are fairly high for this time of year so we are actively training, doing cross-training and we’re preparing to have a busy year,” McLean said.

Crews then moved into a residential area to practice structure protection.

“We’ll be setting sprinklers up on some houses so it’s the same thing, it’s protecting the infrastructure or the houses from the oncoming fire,” Green said.

They have trailers full of gear and have taken them across the province to fight fires. They only hope they don’t need to do it in their own back yard this year.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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