When Bow Horn Bay Fire Chief Clayton Bucoviz responded to a recent brush fire near Bowser, it looked more like a call in mid-summer, not early April.
“The entire trail and part of the community was engulfed in smoke and very heavy smoke,” said Bucoviz.
There were numerous fires burning over several hectares of a forestry cut-block near the end of Linx Road.
Flames were leaping over a metre high and spreading in the strong winds, according to fire crews.
“The winds just caught it and it spread all over, so we did had multiple fires, somewhat contained but spreading very quickly,” added Bucoviz.
It happened when a legal slash burn spread out of control.
Dashwood firefighters and a truck from the Coastal Fire Centre in Parksville were called in to help douse the flames.
“It was amazing to watch them set up,” said Shelley Howieson who witnessed the fire. “It was really cool, they dropped the pool and got the water in and a couple of guys were running the hoses up so yeah they got on it right away because it’s very dry right now.”
“I’m not surprised with how dry it is,” added Bucoviz. “It wasn’t as wet as normal years so our grass and our trees and some of the dead wood on the ground is very dry right now.”
Parts of the East Island only received 30 to 70 per cent of normal precipitation in March.
“It’s been dry across the province and on Vancouver Island Victoria actually saw its third driest March on record with only about 23 per cent of its normal monthly precipitation,” said Environment Canada Meteorologist Lisa Erven.
Showers are in the forecast for Friday before skies clear again on Saturday.
Temperatures on Vancouver Island next week will likely be the warmest yet this year, prompting this advice from Chief Bucoviz.
“I’m asking people to very vigilant with campfires, backyard burns and cigarettes,” he said. “Make sure if you do smoke you that you put out the cigarette butt and take it out with you.”