Half the wildfires in northern Vancouver Island are started by humans. (BP file photo)

Humans cause half the wildfires in Vancouver Island north

Open fire escape is the number one cause, followed by mechanical

In the last 10 years, people have caused 218 wildfires on northern Vancouver Island. That’s more than 20 per year, and most of them were started from open fires – unattended campfires or bigger open fires on work sites.

This time of year, the Coastal Fire Centre wants to remind everyone of basic fire safety practises to avoid these kinds of preventable fires.

“Be extremely careful around all open fire, follow best practises always. Never leave open fire unattended – ever, ever, ever. Always have water handy. Make sure fire is cold to the touch before you leave it,” said Coastal Fire Centre staffer Dorthe Jakobsen.

Of the 218 fires between 2009 and 2018 (2019 data was not available because of a software update issue), mechanical incidents were the second leading cause. This is often from industrial work, such as friction or engine sparks.

Twenty-three of the fires are believed to have been deliberately set.

Cigarettes started 13 fires over the 10-year period, and the remaining are from miscellaneous causes.

Throughout those ten years, 249 fires were caused by lightning, which is just over half (53 per cent) of the total. The rest, come from humans.

For those who live near forests, now is the time to prepare. FireSmart B.C. www.firesmartbc.ca has information on their website to help people prepare their properties.

“Evidence that fire-smart properties can better survive fires, and are easier for firefighters to protect,” Jakobsen said.

Predictive services experts in Victoria expect 2020 to be an average fire season, based on the amount of fuel on the forest floors and precipitation expected.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

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