Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Pictured is the remnants of a parachute from a marine distress flare that exploded close to the ground on the evening of Dec. 12 and was found in a lower branch of a garry oak tree next to a home in Maple Bay. (Submitted photo)

Neighbours horrified as dangerous marine flares shot off in Maple Bay

Illegal to use distress flares except in emergencies

A couple in Maple Bay are raising the alarm after marine distress flares were fired off on the night of Dec. 12 near their home.

Sally Meecham and Paul Bland live close to the water in Maple Bay on Arbutus Avenue.

Although the popular annual Christmas afloat event was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, about six boats decked out in lights held their own marine parade in the bay anyway that night, and one or more people near Arbutus Avenue fired off two marine distress flares in an apparent ill-suited and dangerous effort to help celebrate the small parade of boats.

Bland said the first flare was launched from somewhere behind his home and then exploded before it came close to landing on one of the Christmas float boats.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN VALLEY REGIONAL DISTRICT CONSIDERS OPTIONS FOR FIREWORKS AFTER RECEIVING COMPLAINTS

“The second flare was not launched in the air but rather shot more directly and it exploded right in front of us,” he said.

“A neighbour and us thought there was an earthquake or power poles exploding. The entire interior of the house level we were on glowed a bright orange, and the doors and the house shook. It goes without saying that had we been sitting outside on our chairs watching the floats, or had the parachute flare exploded on a rooftop, the destruction would have been disastrous.”

Bland said, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve just days away, the couple is concerned about more marine distress flares being fired off in the area.

“We anticipate it may be a very long time before we are able to enjoy other public celebrations without hiding and being prepared to flee or douse flames,” he said.

“Our neighbours in the bay are also very angry and concerned and they too are worried for their safety. In a year that has been anything but normal, the last thing any of us wants is someone’s home or the bay being set ablaze.”

RELATED STORY: HOLIDAY LIGHTS TWINKLE ON WATER OF MAPLE BAY FOR SAIL PAST

Distress flares, which burn at the melting point of steel and contain toxic chemicals, are very dangerous and can cause severe injuries.

They are designed for marine distress and are deliberately difficult to extinguish.

A statement from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment said the police had not been made aware of this incident, and encouraged anyone involved to reach out to report safety concerns.

The statement said the Canada Shipping Act Collisions Regulations notes that it is an offence to use a distress signal for a purpose other than to indicate distress, or to use a signal that may be confused with a distress signal.

Each of these offences can come with a $173 fine with a surcharge.

“Transport Canada has created a guide for marine safety that states that flares should always be shot into the wind and away from the vessel at a 45-degree angle so it will drift back over your position,” the statement said.

“Never point a flare at another person, and always treat flares as explosive devices. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP encourages anyone using marine vessels or around the water to ensure that they have the necessary and required safety equipment and that others with them are also acting responsibly.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Community

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: New hospital shouldn’t charge for parking

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Asparagus root, dug up from the old patch and ready to be transplanted. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Some tips on growing asparagus

When choosing asparagus I recommend buying male plants for juicier, plumper spears.

If you’re looking for a goat time, visit Russell Farms Market! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Looking for a goat time on Good Friday

If you drive by the farm market a little slower you see the goat pen.

The McCloskey-Hydro Rain Garden, located in a sunny Hydro corridor and receiving about 2.5 million litres of rainwater runoff per year from the roof of nearby McCloskey Elementary School. (Deborah Jones photo)
A&E column: From nature to poetry to puppets, there’s plenty afoot

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment scene

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read