Urban parks in Victoria at extreme fire risk during hot, dry weather

Urban parks in Victoria at extreme fire risk during hot, dry weather
Mary Griffin/CHEK News
WatchThe forest fire danger is hitting closer to home. That's because many of Greater Victoria's urban parks, including all of the CRD's regional parks and trails, are now rated as

Recent hot and dry weather has brought tinder-dry conditions and extreme fire risk to Capital Region parks.

The extreme heatwave dried out much of the potential fuel for fires. Signs at entrances to Victoria’s urban parks, including Oak Bay’s Uplands Park, warn of the fire danger and it’s an issue for residents in the area according to Oak Bay manager of parks Chris Hyde-Lay.

“The park is extremely dry right now,” said Hyde-Lay. “It’s drier now than it ever has been in previous years.”

The conditions are dry enough that deputy fire chief Dan Wood says residents should have a fire evacuation plan in place and be aware.

“You need to be prepared for wildfires. Not only having an evacuation plan for you and your family to get out should there be a fire,” said Wood. “But also taking steps to protect your home, and your property from fire, and your neighbours, and be aware.”

He said residents can take small steps to help reduce the risk in the area and keep their homes fire smart.

“Keeping your grass cut low, insuring there is no dry branches and stuff in your gutters, keep it cleared out,” he said. “[Make] sure all combustible materials are away from the side of your house, and protected.”

However, despite the dry conditions and fire risk, smokers discarding cigarettes have been responsible for several small fires in Saanich in the past few days according to Wood.

“We’ve had a number of them in the past couple of days,” Wood said. “And given the dry conditions, I suspect it’ll continue.”

Oak Bay’s Uplands Park is 77 acres, and home to one of Canada’s largest collections of rare plants. To mitigate the fire risk, the brown grass is regularly moved. However, that could be catastrophic to the park, and the neighbourhood.

Hyde-Lay says to prevent further damage, residents need to keep their eyes open for anything that may raise their curiosity.

If you see any fire call 911 immediately.

READ MORE: BC Wildfire Crews battle blaze in North Tahsish region

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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