Scorched shingles litter the rooftop of a French Creek home after firefighters extinguished a blaze that spread from a neighbouring brush burn Sunday afternoon.

Fire in French Creek sends one to hospital

‘The message is: avoid using Tiger torches to burn your weeds and brush piles’

A backyard brush burn turned into a response by firefighters from four communities Sunday evening after the blaze spread to a tall hedge and then to the roof of a French Creek home.

The home was saved but sustained “significant water damage” and scorching to roof trusses and a portion of the roof itself, said Darryl Kohse, fire chief at the Qualicum Beach Fire Department.

The man who inadvertently started the fire sustained burns while trying to put it out and was taken to hospital, said Kohse, who said he believed the injuries were minor.

The QBFD was called to the home at

571 Hawthorne Rise at about 6 p.m. June 26. Kohse said they discovered a neighbour had been burning weeds in his yard with a “Tiger torch” and accidentally fired a 10-foot cedar hedge that separated the two properties.

“It burned really rapidly,” Kohse said of the hedge. “All the dead material falls in the middle, and the cedar hedge is designed to keep water to the outside. It was like lighting a gunpowder fuse.”

Either flames or sparks from the burning hedge spread to the neighbouring rooftop, a cedar shake roof only a few feet away.

In addition to the Qualicum Beach Fire Department, firefighters from Parksville, Dashwood and Coombs-Hilliers departments also attended the blaze.

“The message is: avoid using Tiger torches to burn your weeds and brush piles,” said Kohse. “We’ve actually had three hedge fires this year; fortunately, there was not structure damage in the other incidents.”

Open burning restrictions for most of Vancouver Island were established by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on May 13. But those restrictions do not yet prohibit campfires or small-scale burns.

“We’re still waiting for drier weather (for a complete ban),” said Kohse. “We wait for the B.C. Forest Service, and just go with whatever their restrictions are.”

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