Parksville fire chiefs asks the public to be vigilant

Fire hazard is back at extreme; stand-by crews expected to be back in the fire hall this week

With the forecast calling for a bit more rain before a return to hot, dry summer conditions, authorities remind people the overall conditions have not improved.

“People need to continue to be vigilant,” said Parksville fire chief Doug Banks. “Be aware of your surroundings.”

With a dip in the fire danger rating from extreme down to dangerous thanks to some rain and cooler temperatures last weekend, Parksville’s stand-by fire crew was off duty for a time.

“But if it’s back up at extreme for a few days we’ll bring them back,” Banks said, pointing out the rating was already back to extreme Tuesday, just two days after the rain.

Despite all the wildfire danger, Banks said the Parksville Volunteer Fire Department has “been fortunate not to have anything to deal with, whether that’s good management or just luck.”

There have been 159 wildfires so far this year in the Coastal Fire Centre said Fire Information Officer Marg Drysdale. That includes several notable fires around the mid Island at Sproat Lake and Mt. Benson that are now out or under control and one small wildfire in Coombs.

Of those recorded fires 120 were human caused, highlighting the need for continued vigilance, Drysdale said.

Campfires and pretty much any kind of outdoor burning are still banned until further notice. The almost province-wide ban in place since July 2 prohibits all campfires as well as enclosed wood burning appliances and gas appliances capable of creating a flame of more than 15 centimetres.

Fines for burning start at $345 and, if convicted in court, can reach $100,000 and/or jail time.

There are still B.C. River Forecast Centre low flow advisories on many rivers and streams across B.C. including the Englishman and Little Qualicum Rivers.

After a record dry first half of the year, as of Aug. 4, the damn controlled Englishman is running at 0.75 square metres per second, close to half of what it was just a month ago, but still above record lows. The Little Qualicum is in record low territory at 0.52 m3/s, well under half what it was a month ago.

The dry conditions have also kept watering restrictions in place with Qualicum Beach residents allowed to water between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and watering almost completely banned in Parksville and Regional District of Nanaimo where residents are only allowed to hand water vegetable gardens between the hours of 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m.

For more on restrictions contact your municipality: Parksville (250-248-6144), RDN (250-390-6560) or Qualicum Beach (250-752-6921) or visit their websites.

To report a wildfire or for more provincial fire information call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone and check www.bcwildfire.ca for the latest information.

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