‘Near misses and good saves’ on Hornby Island

As the hot weather continues, the slightest spark can set off a fire.

Hornby Island has been the setting for several “near misses and good saves”, according to Fire Chief Doug Chinnery.

Posting on his department’s web page, Chinnery said the island’s forest fire rating moved to “extreme” on July 18. All of his department’s call-outs since then have been medical so far.

“That doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down, though,” he wrote. “I’ve heard of three recent local incidents that could have resulted in a fairly large-scale response.”

Around the time that the fire hazard went to “extreme”, Chinnery said he received a call from a resident whose chainsaw exhaust set fire to the log he was bucking up.

Fortunately the resident had water nearby and was able to extinguish the fire himself.

“But the event was an eye-opener into how easily things catch on fire in these conditions.”

The second incident involved a Hornby Island fire department member smelling smoke coming from a resident’s workshop.

As the fire fighter checked it out, flames began licking out of the floorboard. The fire was likely caused by a “a blob” of hot steel that came from a welding job over an hour earlier.

The fire fighter was able to put out the fire with an extinguisher that he had, before any significant damage happened, and before fire could spread to a nearby forest.

The final incident involved a BC Hydro employee, who also happened to be a volunteer with Chemainus Fire.

She was following another vehicle down a driveway with tall grass down the middle. The exhaust system of the car ahead lit the tall grass on fire without the driver noticing.

Luckily, the hydro worker was carrying an extinguisher in her vehicle and was able to put out the fire before it spread to the field beside the driveway.

Chinnery has some advice for Hornby Island residents and visitors:

* Be vigilant

* Carry an extinguisher

* Avoid using chainsaws or other high-fire risk tools

* Keep the driveway grass short (using a nylon string trimmer)

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