An illegal backyard burn got out of control and nearly took out a neighbour’s house in the 5700 block of Highway 101 near Nestman Road in Selma Park at about 5 p.m. on Sept. 6.
Sechelt Fire Chief Bill Higgs said having members at the fire hall last Thursday was all that saved the nearby house from damage.
“We were lucky that we had four or five guys here when the call came in,” Higgs said.
Backyard burns are different from campfires, which are allowed in Sechelt, Higgs said. A backyard burn is characterized by a large fire, often in a burn barrel, that is typically fueled by garden waste, building materials, garbage or household items.
“We got the report of a backyard burn that had escaped and was now travelling up the backyard and into the next door neighbour’s property. We got there in about three and a half minutes, which was pretty much just driving time,” Higgs said. “Thank goodness, too, because we ended up getting a stop on the fire just 20 feet [six metres] from the house that was about to go up in flames.”
When fire crews arrived on scene, residents were quick to help guide them to the blaze that was hard to locate, saving precious time.
“That was really helpful, because we could see the smoke, but we didn’t quite know where it was,” Higgs said.
He also credits some nearby homeowners who were dousing the flames with water from their garden hoses for slowing the fire’s travel.
Higgs said backyard burns are illegal under the District’s new open air burning bylaw and noted the incident was being investigated by Sechelt’s bylaw officers.
“This fellow was burning pallets and lumber and garbage. He was doing backyard burning and that is just not allowed. It’s especially not allowed in the middle of summer,” Higgs said.
At press time, Coast Reporter learned the investigation into the fire was complete and no charges would be laid.
“We do not anticipate any fines or any further enforcement action will be imposed for violation of District bylaws. Our thanks, as always, goes to the Sechelt Fire Department for their prompt and effective response to this incident,” said District communications manager Connie Jordison.