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Some burning questions about fire regulations in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Parksville Volunteer Fire Department fire fighters quickly put out a fire Tuesday morning at approximately 11 a.m. at a French Creek home along Sunrise Drive. No one was injured in the fire.  - CANDACE WU PHOTO
Parksville Volunteer Fire Department fire fighters quickly put out a fire Tuesday morning at approximately 11 a.m. at a French Creek home along Sunrise Drive. No one was injured in the fire.
— image credit: CANDACE WU PHOTO

The Parksville Volunteer Fire Department extinguished a fire within 30 minutes Tuesday morning, a blaze that appears to have started in the backyard of a home along Sunrise Drive in French Creek.

PVFD deputy fire chief Marc Norris said the department was called to the scene at 11:05 a.m. Norris said no one was injured by the fire.

While the source of the fire is unknown, Norris said it looked like it started from ambers leftover from a fire the night before.

The section along Sunrise Drive from Imperial Drive to Baldwin Road was blocked off for approximately one hour while fire fighters attended the incident.

"It could have been a lot worse," said Norris, pointing to a large cedar tree lined with burn marks. "This serves as a good reminder that it's really drying out around here."

Norris said residents should be aware of burning regulations over the summer.

RDN manager of building, bylaw and emergency planning services Tom Armet said the RDN has bylaws in place regulating residential backyard burning activity within electoral districts, including San Pariel and French Creek, which do not permit backyard burning over the summer.

"In a typical sense you can burn garden refuse (small branches and leaves) fires between mid-February to mid-April and then again from mid-October to mid-December in those fire services areas," said Armet. "So there are four months you can burn, two in early spring and two in late fall."

Armet said other areas such as Bow Horne Bay have different types of fire bylaws that aren't as specific in terms of residential backyard burning. Areas such as Coombs, Errington and Nanoose do not have outdoor/backyard burning bylaws but the fire chiefs in those jurisdictions can authorize various types of fires as they see fit. Crown land and those lands within electoral areas that don't have fire/burning bylaws are covered by provincial regulations.

Additionally, Armet said RDN residents cannot burn within ten metres of a building, structure or highway; a person 16 or older must be present at all times while burning for the purposes of supervision; burn piles may not exceed two square metres; and you can only burn garden refuse that originated within the property itself meaning toxic material is prohibited from burning.

Armet said a person can be fined up to $2,000 for violating outdoor burning regulations.

In Qualicum Beach fire chief Darryl Kohsy said backyard burning is only permitted from mid-April to mid-May and mid-October to mid-November on properties 2.5 acres or larger.

In Parksville fire chief Doug Banks said backyard burning is not permitted at any time during the year regardless of  property size. Banks said the main reason burning garden refuse is not permitted is because the city was receiving a high volume of smoke complaints. The City of Parksville does offer a chipping program.

For more information visit www.rdn.bc.ca, www.city.parksville.bc.ca or www.qualicumbeach.com.

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