Two fires on Thetis Island during May had the potential to burn large tracts of forested lands.
But quick action by the Thetis Island Volunteer Fire Department kept the damage to a minimum, even without being alerted promptly.
“One of them was particularly interesting for us because it was not reported for several hours,” said TIVFD chief Jeannine Caldbeck. “It had the potential for being a much larger fire.”
The fire on May 14 was human caused, but fortunately there was no wind at the time. It advanced slowly uphill in a north easterly direction and people walked by, not realizing it was a fully involved bush fire and the smoke column was visible for a considerable distance.
The call to the hall didn’t come in until just after 5 p.m. and Caldbeck estimates it should have been reported three to four hours earlier.
Residents are urged to call 911 any time they see smoke or fire. The TIVFD is always happy to check it out, even if it doesn’t appear serious, to catch it as early as possible before it gets away.
“Anyone in Saltair or Chemainus or Crofton looking over to Thetis and if you see a column of smoke in the distance, call 911,” added Caldbeck. “Don’t be afraid to call.”
Daytime burning is currently banned.
The TIVFD is a small but dedicated group of 16 members. “Over here, it is a team effort,” noted Caldbeck. “This community is a super team effort for everybody.”
Thirteen firefighters responded to the May 14 fire. Deputy Chief Peter Luckham was first on scene, and emptied his pressurized water can immediately on the bush edge that was advancing. Caldbeck and Captain Dave Tarris then arrived in the Command vehicle and handed him a second water can while the Command vehicle pump and hose was quickly set up. Caldbeck advanced the hose across the burned area to pass to Luckham since that was more expedient than going around.
They emptied the 100 gallons they carry just as Engine 1 arrived and set up below them on the narrow rough access road. The tender – brought in by two members of the water auxiliary team, Sven Aaberg and James Alton – positioned the drop tank behind Engine 1, dumped 1,000 gallons of water and returned to the highways yard tank for refills.
The total burned area was approximately 150 feet by 50 feet and firefighters spent 3 1/2 hours on site and several more back at the hall for equipment cleanup and readiness.
A week previously, a maple tree went down over power lines, and the high voltage lines sparked the tree and spread.
By the time it was called in just before 4 a.m. May 6, a fire had spread to a 20 by 20 foot square in a forested area by Pilkey Point Road and the flames were waist high.
It expanded to 30 by 30 feet 40 minutes later. Twelve firefighters responded and put it out.
– with a file from Veronica Shelford