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Langley brush fire reminder of urban fire danger amid hot, dry conditions

Last Updated Jul 21, 2021 at 7:25 pm PDT

(Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 photo)
Summary

Discarded cigarette butts are a major cause of urban fires

Langley's fire chief says people living in Metro Vancouver should be careful as fire risk is high during this dry spell

LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) — After two people were injured trying to put out a brush fire outside of Langley’s Willowbrook Mall, the city’s fire chief is reminding people how quickly fire can spread amid dry conditions — even on the Lower Mainland.

The cause of Wednesday afternoon’s fire is still under investigation, and the people who were injured did not have to be transported to the hospital. Two cars were damaged, but a crew of 17 firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, and it did not spread to the nearby building.

“When we arrived, there was quite a volume of heavy smoke and flames. It was primarily in the boulevard area that was separating the parking lanes, and it was involving the bark mulch, a couple of the trees and of course the [shrubs lining the] Boulevard area,” said Chief Rory Thompson.

 

The most common cause of urban fires is people tossing lit cigarettes, and Thompson says it’s crucial to be careful even for those who live far away from the raging wildfires in other parts of the province.

“It’s very dry here in the Lower Mainland. We do tend to think of some of the drier forest fire type of conditions as being an Interior thing, but here in the Lower Mainland it’s still very very dry, and we always have to look after making sure that we properly dispose of smokers material, and barbecue coals or anything like that,” he says.

RELATED: B.C. wildfires: Wind could make for dangerous days ahead

Those living in semi-forested areas need to pay particular attention to keeping dried leaves, dried pine needles, or any other material that can quickly ignite far away from their homes.

If a fire breaks out, Thompson says it’s important to call in experienced firefighters.

“The first step is to make sure that you’re away from the area and then when you safely can, make sure that you call 911 and keep others from approaching the fire.”

The City of Port Coquitlam has elevated their fire danger rating to “extreme,” explaining in a Tweet that “this means that due to the long period of dry/hot weather we’ve had, the forest floor in our parks and along the trails is extremely dry and a fire could start easily and spread rapidly.”

B.C. declared a province-wide state of emergency Tuesday. At that time, there were nearly 300 wildfires burning, with many communities under evacuation orders or alerts.

The BC Wildfire Service said there have been 1,145 blazes so far this season, scorching 300,000 hectares of land. That’s about three times more than the 10-year average for this time of year.

With files from Denise Wong