As “extreme” fire danger conditions persist, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) responded Sunday to an illegal fire up Mount Maxwell Road that officials say could have been a lot worse.
Assistant Fire Chief Mitchell Sherrin said three firefighters and two apparatus were dispatched up toward the provincial park after a passing cyclist reported an unattended campfire still smouldering in a meadow off the road. The cyclist rode quickly back to his truck, Sherrin said, grabbed a water can and sprayed it on the fire, before racing to a nearby house to call the fire department.
In a stroke of luck, according to Sherrin, it was the home of Greg Bellavance, who took his bobcat machine to the location and began turning the earth in search of embers that could have restarted the fire. When SSIFR arrived, they doused the ground with additional water and thoroughly extinguished the fire.
“It was really fortunate for us to have Greg there and his machine,” said Sherrin. “And I want to commend that cyclist for acting quickly and notifying us.”
Sherrin said since the fire was on North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD) property, they were notified and inspected the site, roughly in the 1200 block of Mount Maxwell Road. Sherrin also implored the public to exercise extreme caution in the woods while the fire danger is so high.
“People need to be extra safe,” said Sherrin. “We probably have another week of this weather before any hope of moisture.”
As of Monday the forest fire danger rating is at extreme. Campfires are banned as part of the regulations.
The NSSWD has been vocal in recent years about asking people to not trespass on their Mount Maxwell watershed property, with concerns about fire damaging the watershed and the potential for degrading drinking water quality.