‘We were just thinking of Maui’: Residents scramble as Parksville firefighters fight grass fire

'We were just thinking of Maui': Residents scramble as Parksville firefighters fight grass fire

Residents of a Parksville neighbourhood along Ridgefield Drive rushed to grab their garden hoses and turn on their sprinklers Sunday evening after a grass fire ignited near their homes and began spreading in strong winds.

“We were just having a barbeque in the backyard and were talking about Lahaina and the devastation there when we smelled smoke,” said Terry Burgess, who lives on Ridgefield Drive. “We looked across the street and saw lots of smoke and flames.”

Burgess immediately began hosing down his home and turned on his inground sprinkler system to keep his property wet.

Other residents were seen hosing down their homes as well as concern set in.

Parksville firefighters responded with several trucks just after 6 p.m. to what initially was reported as a small brush fire. But by the time the first truck was rolling, numerous 911 calls were being received by dispatchers.

Assistant Chief Steven Liedl spoke with CHEK News at the scene.

“Upon arrival I found an area approximately 100 feet by 100 feet with lots of smoke and flames,” he said. “Initially it was about 30 feet from houses so our first-in trucks, their first priority was to protect those houses.”

The fire had spread up a hillside in an area of parkland that runs behind homes on Ridgefield Drive.

“It started to get really, really smoky really, really fast,” said Jasmine Rodriguez, who witnessed the fire. “It spread up the trees and in the stumps and brush at the bottom.”

Fire crews brought the fire under control and spent about an hour putting out hot spots.

A second fire was also spotted about 100 metres from the initial fire.

Assistant Chief Liedl says the cause of the fires hasn’t been determined but adds they’re not believed to be suspicious.

RCMP officers were on the scene in case the neighbourhood had to be evacuated.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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